3 essential qualities for CFOs

As the post-Affordable Care Act healthcare landscape shifts, the job of chief financial officers becomes more complex, and effective CFOs must have a few key traits, according to Becker's Hospital Review.

Here are three of the five skills CFOs must possess in order to be successful in the new year, Suzanne Anderson, executive vice president, CFO, and CIO of Virginia Mason Health System in Seattle, and Tom Quinn, a senior partner with executive search firm Witt/Kieffer, told Becker's:

Knowledge of their own industry: Although many CFOs lead based on analysis and data, the increasing complexity of healthcare management puts renewed emphasis on baseline industry knowledge, Anderson told Becker's. "[W]hat's really important is to understand clinical programs and operations and what the frontline care team is doing," she said.

Effective partnerships with other leaders: To fine-tune working relationships with the rest of the C-suite, it's vital that CFOs can work with people, Anderson told Becker's. "It's really 'How can we work together to come up with strategies on how to improve the business?'" she said. As healthcare trends toward a value-based reimbursement system, clinical integration is more important than ever, Quinn told the publication. There has long been conflict between CFOs and chief medical officers, but some providers form partnerships to cover more ground between the two positions, FierceHealthFinance previously reported.

Ability to communicate without  using financial jargon:  Because a modern CFO must share more information with frontline staff, they must put the provider's challenges in terms a non-CFO can understand, according to Anderson. For example, at Virginia Mason, management training focuses on identifying and reducing waste, improving care quality and patient safety, and increasing efficiency, she said. "I think a good CFO needs to encourage those kinds of experiences to create more skills and depth in the finance team," Anderson told Becker's.

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