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Lower Costs, Better Care Intersect at CFO Exchange

Jim Molpus, for HealthLeaders Media, January 11, 2012
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“I think when you add them all together, when you look at readmissions, when you look at value-based purchasing, when you look at RAC audits, when you look at the trend of government, it is to reduce their cost and [develop] ACOs, which will reduce utilization,” Moylan said. “When you add them all together, it’s important.”

Reducing costs

Hospitals will have to cut double-digits out of operations in the next few years, the CFO panel agreed. But to understand how difficult the cuts may be, one must review the relationship between cost and investment.

“These costs drivers like technology, imaging, IT, and physician labor are all a result of us trying to comply with what Medicare is asking us to do, the payers are asking us to do, or consumers are asking us to do,” said Elizabeth Ward, executive vice president and CFO for Kingsport, TN–based Wellmont Health System.

Often a discussion about cutting physician costs is less about overall physician numbers and more about making sure their time is being used effectively, says Dennis Dahlen, senior vice president of finance and CFO for Phoenix-based Banner Health.

“One of the biggest things that we’re starting to implement in our medical group is gaining control of the physician’s schedule,” Dahlen said. “You have to use that scarce resource, that expensive resource, very frugally, and to have them and their office staff spending time on managing their schedule is not good use of their time.” Banner is working with patient portal technology to ease scheduling for patients and create standards for physician scheduling, he said.

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