Healthcare CFOs weigh in on 2017 challenges, trends in latest surveys

The year ahead will be challenging for most hospital and health system chief financial officers, as more plan to outsource complex claims. Others said their organizations don’t have the tools they need to manage the changing environment, according to two new surveys of hospital CFOs.

A new Kaufman Hall report found that only 14% of the 350 CFOs surveyed said their healthcare organizations were very prepared to manage the financial impact of healthcare reform with their current financial planning processes and tools.  And 19% said they were confident that their team can quickly and easily make adjustments in response to sudden changes in the industry.

One in three respondents surveyed said that identifying and managing cost reduction initiatives is the most important financial performance management activity across their organization.

Meanwhile, a survey of 1,309 hospital CFOs and business office leaders by Black Book found that executives are taking steps to optimize all reimbursement, including complex claims, because they anticipate a decline in reimbursements and inpatient margins narrowing further next year.

Indeed, the report found that the complex claims outsourcing market would likely grow 18% annually through 2019, adding to nearly 76% of U.S. hospitals already outsourcing some extended business office tasks.

“Hospitals must do more with less, even with the accelerating pressure to streamline claims processing efficiencies and maximize profitability,” said Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, in a statement. “Outside vendors are providing hospitals with the scale necessary to optimize revenue from complex claims collections but there is room for improvement ... far too few outsourcing firms fully understand the healthcare space.”