In changing healthcare world, CFO gains more responsibilities

In the face of calls for transparency and quality from healthcare organizations, along with shifting reimbursement models and reforms, the dynamics in hospital leadership are shifting, with the chief financial officer playing a crucial role in hospital operations, Becker's Hospital Review reported.

Hospital CFOs can improve their leadership skills by building relationships with mentors, working with an executive coach, empowering their departments through positive reinforcement, setting an example with clearly defined ethical behavior, understanding team members on a personal level and setting individual goals, and making a commitment to serve the patients, according to the article.

John Orsini, CFO of Cadence Health, a two-hospital system based in Winfield, Ill., told Becker's that it's important for the CFO to show just as much passion and dedication to the hospital's mission statement as the CEO. "I strongly believe finance, first and foremost, is a service organization," he said. "We need to make sure we understand operations and the business model, and provide timely, accurate and actionable information so we can run the organization well from a financial, quality and patient satisfaction perspective."

The CFO must also serve as the "ambassador" to the financial side of the business, as well as give people enough information to make good decisions for the organization, Orsini said. CFOs must take on the added responsibility while still addressing the issue of improving the patient experience and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare, which means collaborating with physicians and other healthcare providers.

In June, Don Berwick, M.D., former administrator for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and now official candidate for Massachusetts governor, charged healthcare financial leaders with navigating change to achieve a "triple aim" healthcare system that offers better care, better health and better costs, FierceHealthcare previously reported. It is possible, he said, to develop a system of evidence-based, patient-centered care that involves lower costs and better outcomes.

"Don't be stuck in the old ways. You can't say it can't be done. We can save the world and solve this problem. It's not a problem of possibility. It's a problem of will," Berwick said.

To learn more:
- here's the Becker's Hospital Review article