3 ways CFOs can thrive in today's fast-changing healthcare world

Doctor medical finance

In order to survive--and thrive--in today's evolving healthcare climate, a hospital CFO must move beyond the numbers and become a "business person," Peter Sheahan, founder of ChangeLabs, told attendees of this week's Healthcare Financial Management Association's annual conference in Orlando, Florida.

It's no longer enough for hospital financial leaders to focus on capital efficiencies and fast closings. Instead, he said, they must refocus their thinking and aim to become the go-to leaders of their organizations who can pursue strategical initiatives such as sustaining an accountable care business model.

"For a CFO or controller or VP of finance it really starts with the wisdom and courage to reconceptualize the role and pursue a more strategic place in the organization," Sheahan said. "With this much change taking place, we need to rethink the financial management role."

To transition away from their traditional role of being a numbers person, Sheahan suggests that CFOs instead:

Take a risk: Today's healthcare environment involves risks regarding payments and revenue, he said. The ability to transform an organization directly correlates to the amount of risk leaders are willing to assume.

Collaborate: Financial leaders must build and develop a team that includes representatives from every area of the organization.

Remove obstacles: One of the biggest hurdles to transformation is fear, Sheahan said. He suggests financial executives aim to develop their self-confidence that will instill confidence in the organization.

His suggestions are similar to ones made earlier this month in Hospitals & Health Networks Magazine, which revealed the ideal traits of a hospital leader. This executive will also embrace change, use data to drive strategy and focus on savings opportunities across the continuum of care.