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3 Areas Where CFOs Are Laser Focused

Analysis  |  By Marie DeFreitas  
   July 01, 2024

"We are not going to leave dollars on the table," CFOs say.

During a panel at last week’s HFMA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, CFOs discussed pain points they’re currently facing and emerging opportunities.

Topics ranged from action plans for addressing industry challenges to examining current financial trends that are impacting healthcare, but there were three specific areas where CFOs seem to be placing their focus.

Artificial Intelligence

One of the first trends spoken about was the implementation of artificial intelligence. CFOs voiced concerns about the governance of AI and how smaller organizations are having trouble implementing it. Some brought up the need for an ‘automation road map’ to serve as a guide, and the importance of a such a plan for every health system.

“We’re starting to dip our toes in, but it’s a slow process,” said Jana Cook, CFO of Phelps Health.

Perhaps this is something that every leader should keep in mind. The consensus was that AI implementation is a process that needs to be taken slow with the right type of governance in order to do it successfully.

Big Pharma

Big pharma’s impact on health systems was the next topic of conversation, with panelists and attendees discussing the 340B drug pricing program and the significance of improving the cost of pharmaceuticals.

“Pharma and the health plans are winning right now,” Robin Damschroder, executive VP and CFO of Henry Ford Health System said. “They’re winning in the battle of who is doing better in the community.”

Hospitals and health systems face a great financial burden as drug companies increase prices. 

While drug manufacturers are trying to lobby against the program, Damschroder stressed the need for  health systems to push back against big pharma efforts and the importance of coming together to speak with one voice.

In order to do that, Damschroder said, it will take a collaboration of colleagues at the individual professional associations within the different physician specialties to come together.

Payer Pains and Denials

Commercial payer denials are coming in at an alarming rate for many health systems. One study cited that commercial payer denials for inpatient and outpatient services increased to 15.1% in 2023, compared with 3.9% for Medicare in the first quarter.

One of the biggest changes the group spoke about was going from commercial pay to government pay. One CFO discussed the how their organization dealt with denials by implementing weekly payer meetings and putting an emphasis on documentation coding, calling it “long, hard, steady work.”


Marie DeFreitas is the finance editor for HealthLeaders.


Artificial intelligence needs to be a slow implementation process with strong governance in order to work well

Payer denials are increasing, what can health systems do?

Big pharma is currently winning the drug pricing battle

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