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Hospital CFOs as Quality Leaders

Elyas Bakhtiari, for HealthLeaders Media, August 16, 2010

When Paul Weygandt was presenting to a room full of hospital CFOs about the potential ramifications of the not-yet-passed healthcare reform legislation last year, he asked for a show of hands of how many in the room were involved in their organization’s clinical quality program. Not many went up.

But they should have, argues Weygandt, whose credentials include an MD, JD, MBA, and MPH. He is currently vice president of physician services with Atlanta-based consulting firm J.A. Thomas & Associates.

When an industry undergoes a major transformation, the priorities and skill sets of its leaders often change as well. We can already see the impact of reform and recent changes in healthcare, as physicians rethink how they deliver care and hospital CEOs shift their strategic priorities. Hospital CFOs are adapting, too, and in the future they will need to be much more focused on and involved in quality improvement than in the past, he says.

For the last couple of years, financial leaders have been captains in a storm. While long-term strategy hasn’t completely faded, weathering the recession has been priority number one. Now that the storm is breaking, the future is starting to become clear: Accountable care organizations (ACOs), bundled reimbursement, pay for performance, and other value-based purchasing systems will become the norm.

As revenue becomes increasingly tied to quality, the financial management and quality improvement efforts within a hospital or healthcare system will grow interdependent. “CFOs now recognize that linkage of revenue and quality, and they’re going to be seriously concerned about quality metrics,” he says.

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