HFMA CEO: How to close the 'value gap' in care delivery

The CEO of the Healthcare Finance Management Association (HFMA) warned during the group's annual conference last week of a growing divide between delivering quality healthcare and what it costs to provide it.

Richard Clarke called this trend the "value gap" during a 40-minute presentation at the ANI in Orlando, Fla. He implored providers to meld both cost savings and quality, as well as examine the confluence through the lens of those purchasing healthcare services.

Through collaboration and surveys with 17 organizations such as the HCA, the Geisinger Health System, the Cleveland Clinic, and the American College of Physician Executives, Clarke made four recommendations for closing the gap:

1. Tightening bonds between a hospital's finance department and clinicians.
2. Eliminating regional variances of care, particularly through the employment of evidence-based medicine.
3. Using a blend of both financial and quality data to drive long-term decision-making.
4. Measuring and assessing risks and contracts more effectively.

"We had to make sure the chief financial officer and the chief medical officer of these organizations were with us on this journey," said Clarke, who emphasized cross-collaboration between those disparate departments. "They helped us think through those issues both through the quality and the cost side."

Clarke said that healthcare organizations must focus on their people and their culture, business metrics and performance improvement in order to close gaps in value.

The HFMA will issue periodic reports on fusing cost and quality in the near-term, according to Clarke.