5 concerns that should keep hospital CFOs up at night

Chief financial officers of hospitals, health plans and other ventures in the health sector should not only keep their eyes on the bottom line, but also five other areas that have financial implications under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Forbes reports.

Two of the most important aren't specific financial issues but have to deal with operations, particularly the preponderance of hospital beds and the environment in which patients live their daily lives, writes Forbes contributor Nicole Fisher.  

That jibes with what industry observers say is a shifting role among hospital CFOs, whose focus is becoming more attuned to operations and long-term returns on investment as opposed to just day-to-day finances. At the same time, the margin for error among CFOs, particularly at smaller hospitals, is often smaller than it has been than in the past.

First, Fisher insists that most hospitals have too many beds. "Between transferals to the outpatient setting and telemedicine, the need for expensive inpatient beds is declining," Fisher writes, adding that regulations in many jurisdictions also make it more difficult to shift beds from one affiliated hospital campus to another.

CFOs should also focus on the neighborhoods where their hospital patients come from, according to Fisher. "No one living in a food desert will have the same health outcomes as someone living next door to a Whole Foods," Fisher writes. "Real patient engagement and activation begins with understanding the environment of each patient."

Along with that advice, Fisher also writes that aligning with physicians--and obtaining their buy-in--is crucial; unpredictable shifts in payment patterns continue to occur and that while technology can be a money-saver, implementing even the most basic of electronic health record systems will be extremely expensive.

To learn more:
- read the Forbes article