4. Tapping Finance to Create Value and Drive Business Transformation
Facing a rapidly evolving and increasingly competitive environment, healthcare CFOs are being asked to go beyond the numbers and play a major role in shaping business direction and strategy.
Whether raising capital or helping to plan an expansion, 77% of healthcare financial leaders surveyed by Deloitte say they will focus more intensively on boosting business growth as a strategic partner.
“We look for transformation that will reduce cost, increase efficiency. With that level of efficiency, we become more advisory—helping the clinical and operations teams understand the expenses they’re managing,” says Tim Fitzgerald, vice president, treasury & financial systems at Geisinger. “That’s where the partnership between IT and finance becomes powerful.”
And given the industry’s staffing challenges, healthcare finance leaders are turning as much attention to talent strategy and investment as they would to major capital expenditures, Deloitte finds. Specifically, CFOs are focused on transforming the workforce through automation to improve workflow and allow employees to focus on fewer administrative tasks.
To create this efficiency within their own teams, CFOs will move to advanced planning methods such as rolling forecasts that increase their efficiency and agility. Driver-based models let leaders see the impact of pulling various operational levers and use scenario planning to anticipate the impact of shifting reimbursement models, competition, care delivery approaches, and regulatory requirements.
Scenario planning will become especially important as the healthcare industry continues to see high levels of M&A activity. Digital transformation will play a large role in any successful merger. Such was the case for Corewell Health, a nonprofit managed care organization based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Formed by the merger of Beaumont Health and Spectrum Health, Corewell united the new $14 billion organization’s finance, HCM, and supply chain management under a single platform to unlock efficiency and better position the organization for the future.
As Jason Joseph, chief digital and information officer at Corewell Health, explains, “Our motivation around M&A was to create a more integrated health system that matched up our care delivery and our health plan coverage across the state. Integrating the digital services—EMR [electronic medical record], ERP [enterprise resource planning], etc.—was a foundational element of being able to offer that value proposition."
5. Using Real-Time Data Continuous Planning to Accelerate Decisions
Decreasing reimbursements and rising costs will continue to impact hospitals’ margins for the foreseeable future. As a result, clinicians and leaders will continue to be asked to do more with less while striving for ever-greater efficiency. To make that happen, they’ll need real-time data and accessible analytics to monitor performance, drive improved decisions, and quickly surface potential problems.
“No longer can healthcare organizations review the past 30 days of claims or historical behavioral trends to determine next steps,” notes a PwC Health Research Institute survey. “They need real-time insights to alert leaders to the shifting fronts that may have a major impact on their business.”
However, more than two-thirds of healthcare organizations—which also are often saddled with legacy systems and siloed data—say they lack the analytics tools required to make real-time financial and operational insights, according to a survey by Kaufman Hall. That’s not a good problem to have in an industry that is churning out astounding amounts of data. Healthcare produces almost one-third of the world’s data, according to RBC Capital Markets. And by 2025, the compound annual growth rate of healthcare data will reach 36%—much faster than data-driven industries such as financial services or manufacturing.
To unlock insights from this data deluge and make confident decisions faster, health systems are increasingly adopting cloud-based solutions. By blending operational and historical data, machine-processed data, and real-time analytics, these systems can augment human decision-making and will allow healthcare leaders to make the best decisions as quickly as possible.
6. Improving Supply Chain Management to Support Financial Sustainability, Business Continuity, and Innovation
It’s not just the cost of their people that healthcare organizations need to worry about. Inflation and supply chain snarls have also driven up the price of key medical supplies and equipment. Per-patient supply expenses soared by 18.5% from 2019 to 2022, according to the American Hospital Association.
To keep costs under control and gain more insights into their spending, healthcare organizations must transform their supply chain management. By layering sophisticated analytics through cloud-based systems, they can address pricing, vendor issues, and other bottlenecks in real time, while also proactively automating tasks such as requisitions, tracking, and replenishing.
Take, for example, Sharp HealthCare in Southern California. Like many health systems, Sharp relied on various supply chain management systems to track about $1 billion in spend across multiple departments. “We had too many systems and manual touch points,” says Ryan Koos, Sharp’s chief supply chain officer. “Sourcing efficiency and visibility were suffering, as was our employees’ work experience.”
By centralizing its sourcing processes in a single system, Sharp improved its oversight of suppliers, contracts, and bids. As a result, the organization saved $4.2 million in six months while also shaving four weeks off its request-for-proposal cycle. “We’ve gotten tremendous value in greater engagement with our stakeholders—including suppliers—plus cleaner data and easier, real-time reporting from a single source,” says Koos.