Last week, Healthcare Finance professionals from across the country gathered in Las Vegas at HFMA’s National Institute to discuss the future of the business of healthcare. Topics ranged from leadership to consumerism and how healthcare finance professionals can do more than collect money to have a positive impact on the state of healthcare today. Dan Pink, author of To Sell Is Human, got the week started off on an interesting note conveying that “like it or not, we are all in sales”. What he meant by this is that an increasingly large part of our jobs are focused on moving people to action. While not a message that this crowd was used to hearing, it makes a lot of sense and set the tone for the week by leaving attendees challenged to look at the way they do things and think about what they can do differently to have a better impact.
Continuing on, Kenneth Kaufman, CEO of Kaufman Hall discussed how the old healthcare business models are facing disruption today. Kaufman warned that “We’re hitting a time in healthcare where we may see our story as Blockbuster to Netflix.” He then challenged attendees to think of themselves as not needing to be better in how they operate but instead to be different in how they operate. Presenters continued the theme of change by discussing the growing need for more intelligence and data usage to make smart decisions, control costs and “do more with less.” Population health and the continuum of care played part in the discussion. The questions “How does finance contribute to population health?” and “How can we as healthcare finance professionals work with our clinical counterparts to improve population health?” I had a very interesting conversation on this topic with Kyle Wilcox, AVP Finance at Grinnell Regional Medical Center, during one of the exhibit hall sessions. His take is that healthcare finance professionals have just as much responsibility to the patients’ financial wellbeing as clinicians have to patients’ wellbeing because finance touches every part of people’s lives. It also affects decisions if and when to seek care, which often can lead to patients not making good decisions when it comes to their health because they feel they “can’t afford it”. To round out the week’s theme, Kari Cornicelli, Chair of HFMA, challenged attendees to “Lead the Change”. She remarked “As finance leaders, we are uniquely qualified and have the skills to lead our industry into the future. Everyone in this room is a leader. Just think about the power of what one finance leader can accomplish.” She went on to explain that finance leaders’ understanding of money flow, structure, processes, payment methodologies, and resource utilization will support their organizations’ ability to lower costs, improve care coordination, reward value, and make the healthcare experience better for patients. “People like us will lead the transformation within our organizations and with our leadership teams,” Cornicelli said. “We can lead the change to sustain, grow, and succeed amid great uncertainties, reductions in revenue, and increased government scrutiny and regulation.” I believe that healthcare finance leaders left Las Vegas last week with an enormous amount of inspiration and new ideas to take back to their organization. Now the real work starts of being a leader, thinking differently, and guiding toward positive change for the good of patients and the future of healthcare.