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5 Nuggets of Wisdom from CFOs

Karen Minich-Pourshadi, for HealthLeaders Media, January 9, 2012

3.Put patients to work for you. To schedule my annual physical this past year, I decided to email my provider. The physician's office, which is part of a large Massachusetts hospital, responded a day later with three available time slots. I replied the same day with the time that fit my calendar. Though my appointment was scheduled without a phone call, the process still seemed a bit antiquated. In the age of technology, why couldn't I simply see a physician's availability in an online calendar and then select an appointment time? I can do that to get a massage or a haircut or schedule car repairs, but not to see my doctor. Seems a bit backward.

I'm not the only one who thinks self-scheduling is long overdue in healthcare. There's money to be saved.

"Having MDs and their office staff spending time managing their schedule is not a good use of their time. … We're implementing self-scheduling for our customers, essentially using patients to perform clerical work we currently have to do ourselves," says Dennis Dahlen, senior vice president of finance and CFO at Banner Health, a $4.7 billion organization in Phoenix.

Labor costs are high in healthcare, but finding where to trim is challenging. You don't want to eliminate staff to the detriment of patient care. By having your patients do some of the work booking their appointments online, there may be an opportunity to reduce your costs.

4.Empower staff to reduce expenses. "The most successful year I ever had a prior organization was focusing on the total budget. … We didn't redo the budget, but we focused our department heads on what's happening and what they need to change and gave them the ability to make changes themselves," says Beth Ward, former executive vice president and CFO at the $700 million, eight-hospital Wellmont Health System in Kingsport, TN.

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1 comments on "5 Nuggets of Wisdom from CFOs"


Lars Thording (1/26/2012 at 1:28 PM)
Great points here. Many healthcare CFOs around the country have embraced reprocessing of single-use medical devices as an effective method for reducing costs and improving operating margins. As you mentioned, empowering leadership staff to make smart decisions, and holding them accountable for expenditures is the key to achieving bottom line results. Thank you for this poignant and timely article.