HFMA ANI 2008: Health finance in the spotlight

Hi folks, and welcome to our HFMA ANI 2008 Preview Issue! I don't know about you, but I'm really looking forward to my trip to big, bad 'ol Vegas. When a financial event features speakers like Steve Case, James Carville and Mary Matalin, you know we're talking big-picture views of the industry here, and that's what I'm expecting to get.

This certainly is a good time to be taking a broad look at healthcare financing issues--after all, everyone else is.  Hospitals, in particular, are getting a bunch of attention. Lately, Wall Street has been casting a hard eye on hospitals' financial performances (especially bad debt), the IRS has been shining a bright spotlight on not-for-profit hospitals' charity care policies, and state legislatures are setting limits on hospitals' pricing and collection policies. Meanwhile, CMS is sending out its on-commission auditors to bust physician groups for alleged Medicare claims fraud, while Congress threatens to unwind some--if not all--physician-backed hospitals. And much of this has boiled up over the last 18 months or so. It's pretty scary out there.

That being said, I believe there's plenty of solutions to go around at the show, which features some intriguing programming that should offer useful hands-on tools for attendees. For example, I'm eager to hear how Orlando Regional Healthcare developed an effective revenue management training and incentives program (Monday, June 23, 1:00 pm to 4:30 pm, course #PCW7). For the paranoid among us--and need I say that includes nearly every CFO?--it'd probably be very helpful to catch "Using Documentation to Protect Your Revenue: The Best Offense is a Good Defense," (Tuesday, June 24, 2:30 pm to 4:00 pm, course #B09). Meanwhile, given the risks involved in getting it wrong, non-profit hospital execs shouldn't miss "The New Form 990: What You Must Know and Do," (Wednesday June 25, 10:00 am to 11:30 am, course #C02).

The trade show floor will feature more than 400 vendors who will be happy to explain why they can make your organization profitable and happy. Many are focused on helping you collect from health plans, but as we'll discuss further below, expect to see a large number of solutions providers offering to help you collect from self-pay patients and patients covering large deductibles.

During the show, I'll be hitting the sessions to bring you the best nuggets of knowledge, and scouring the show floor to find vendors with smart takes on the industry's problems. Along the way, though, I hope to meet some of you, and encourage you to say hello if we cross paths. I look forward to meet you in Vegas! - Anne