CFOs Play a Powerful Role in Continuous Planning

Having the tools for data-driven decision making enables organizations to plan, pivot, and build strategic partnerships that support business continuity, growth, and changes in the healthcare industry.

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In the increasingly complex healthcare landscape, finance leaders must balance short term imperatives and longer term business objectives simultaneously. Having business insight, the ability to plan continuously, and empower decision makers at every level of the organization with data and insights is key to building resilient organizations.

The role of the CFO and financial planning leaders is shifting to better support organizations for the future. Having the tools and technology for data-driven decision making is enabling organizations to plan, pivot, and build strategic technology partnerships that support business continuity, growth, and ongoing changes in the industry. 

Strategic Role of the CFO

Finance leaders have become strategic partners by reaching across their organizations to learn about business pain points, including clinical perspectives, human resource constraints, and supply chain challenges. Especially in times of crisis and uncertainty, it’s become increasingly important for the business side and the clinical side of healthcare to collaborate more closely and share insights. For example, looking to balance cost, quality, and outcomes, business leaders are using data to determine if high-cost equipment leads to better patient outcomes. With the CFO leading the way, arming the clinical teams with this type of information will help drive data-driven decisions about healthcare expenditures. This data sharing and increased collaboration will help teams work better together and plan for the unexpected.  

Enabling Cost Management and Data-Driven Decision Making

With these strong relationships in place across business functions, financial leaders can support better decision making and financial and patient outcomes. But to do so, CFOs and financial planning leaders need tools and technology to house and easily share the data that helps the clinical teams understand the current state, pinpoint improvement opportunities, uncover risk points, and enable planning for the future. 

A dynamic system with a single user experience, sign-in, workflow, and a shared set of real-time data for all business functions provides accurate insights and makes data more easily available. With data and reporting contained in one platform, IT involvement can be reduced when creating reports or running analyses, improving efficiency and reducing overall costs associated with decision making. Andrew Schmidt, system director of financial planning at Fairview Health Services says, “With Workday Adaptive Planning’s robust reporting capability, we can drag-and-drop department-level data into the OfficeConnect interface and create unique rollups on the fly without manually adding spreadsheets or submitting IT tickets.”

Being self-sufficient and efficient in planning efforts is essential. “With Workday Adaptive Planning we were able to automate our above-the-line system allocations, and see instantaneously the impact of any changes. Previously, we had to update everything manually and hope everything was error-free,” Schmidt says. When clinical and revenue cycle technology is integrated with planning, leaders can easily see the financial and resource ramifications of clinical choices, and the clinical impacts of financial decisions. 

“To assist with critical business decisions, leadership can access key metrics on demand. Cloud-based solutions provide this level of accessibility and visibility to business leaders as they need it.”

Anthony Mascitti CIO, ApolloMD

Timely reporting also helps enable faster decision making. According to Anthony Mascitti, CIO for ApolloMD, there are positive business impacts of a streamlined, integrated reporting capability. “We're not waiting months for reports,” says Mascitti. “We're not waiting weeks. We're not waiting hours. To assist with critical business decisions, leadership can access key metrics on demand. Cloud-based solutions provide this level of accessibility and visibility to business leaders as they need it.”

Partnering During Unforeseen Crises

As CFOs and financial planning leaders work with other stakeholders to improve healthcare delivery systems and bridge data gaps, they rely on having a technology partner that is flexible and supports activating change. As ChristianaCare CFO Rob McMurray shares, "Workday has demonstrated what partnership means. There's insightful industry knowledge in the Workday support model that allows me to focus less on transactions. We can put more time into planning, executing, and analyzing."

When an organization has a holistic view of finance, HR, and the supply chain, its leaders can create an effective planning strategy and continuously adjust plans to achieve better outcomes. For example, one healthcare provider in the Workday community stayed agile during the onset of COVID-19 by changing its planning approach within Workday Adaptive Planning. This allowed them to accelerate towards a rolling forecast and transition their plan with global drivers to a COVID-19 plan by region and cost center.

Kevin Kain, director of financial planning and operational analysis at ChristianaCare, emphasizes the value of strong partnership and how his organization is navigating during the COVID-19 pandemic. He says, “A couple of months after we went live with our annual budget process, we pivoted to month-to-month forecasting in just four days, so we could better manage the COVID-19 impacts on our operations and patient care. And a few weeks after that, we modeled three scenario cases for our CFO and finance committee to better guide them on making business decisions.”

Agile planning enables organizations to move forward through even the most uncertain times. As healthcare organizations navigate ongoing change, adaptable technology provides the foundation that finance leaders need to protect, evolve, and grow the business. 

To learn more, read this HFMA report to discover how greater visibility across the enterprise delivers true competitive advantage.

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