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Taking the Plunge

Philip Betbeze, Finance Editor, June 25, 2007

Welcome to the first issue of HealthLeaders Finance, our new weekly newsletter. Most of you are familiar with our daily healthcare e-newsletter; that's not going away, but I'm looking forward to delivering a product that's attuned more closely to the subjects this audience is interested in.

I've been covering healthcare finance for almost four years here at HealthLeaders magazine, our monthly flagship publication. That's time enough for an entire college degree-and it feels like I've received quite an education. Despite my economics and English double-major, I was thrown into deep water when I started covering the world of healthcare finance. I don't know if you'll agree, but if there's a more heavily regulated, complicated morass through which providers and payers are forced to navigate in order to fulfill their mission, I haven't seen it. And if it exists, I don't want to cover it.

To continue the water metaphor, I almost sank four years ago when I started covering this business, but somehow I managed to ask unashamedly the necessary dumb questions of people much smarter than me--hospital CEOs, CFOs, COOs and physician practice administrators. For the most part, their patient answers gave me a lifeline. Though I'm still no world champion swimmer in these financial waters, by now I can do a mean backstroke.

Of course, the magazine's not going away either. In fact, a secondary goal of this weekly newsletter was to develop a new way to connect you to that content, as well. But we want to do more than provide a fresh coat of paint to the foyer through which you access HealthLeaders magazine. As a monthly, we have some limitations. We have to plot out our stories months in advance to allow for careful editing, copy fitting and photo shooting. We have to pass on exciting story ideas for lack of space or timeliness. Not so here, (except for the careful editing part, of course). This newsletter, three other targeted newsletters that have already launched--Community and Rural Healthcare, PhysicianLeaders and HealthLeaders IT--and others that will be launched in the coming months allow us greater flexibility and the ability to provide you with a wider variety of information than you're used to.

Anyway, enough about HealthLeaders' inside baseball.

In this week's edition, as I'm leaving shoe leather all over San Diego at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's Annual National Institute, you'll find my audio interview with Kelby Krabbenhoft, CEO of Sanford Health, who talks about the struggles and triumphs associated with his plan to transform the former Sioux Valley Health System into a modified clinic model of healthcare delivery. He was a great source for my June HealthLeaders magazine cover story.

Also, you'll read about conflict surrounding procedure payments between large and small hospitals in the western Pennsylvania marketplace, as well as news about the changes the IRS is making to Form 990. Finally, we hope that readers like you will want to contribute to our Finance Forum, a way for you to connect with other readers about innovative practices and products you've discovered and implemented at your hospitals. This week, we'll hear from Marybeth Regan, an expert in disease and care management, about the importance of effective patient throughput in maximizing revenue.

Thanks for reading. If you've been enrolled automatically to receive this newsletter, give us a few weeks. I think you'll agree that HealthLeaders Finance will stay out of your junk e-mail box.


Philip Betbeze is finance editor with HealthLeaders magazine. He can be reached at pbetbeze@healthleadersmedia.com.

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