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'Taking The Friction Out' of Healthcare With Allina Health's New CFO

Analysis  |  By Marie DeFreitas  
   June 13, 2024

CFO Doug Watson shares what is top of mind as he officially steps into his new role at Allina Health.

Allina Health, a Minnesota-based health system, just named Doug Watson its new chief financial officer.

Watson stepped into his new role in June, having served as interim CFO. He brings a wealth of finance experience to his position and has some goals in mind for the system.

Luckily for Watson he is more than well-suited to tackling his top-of-mind issues and goals as he moves forward in his organization. He previously served as Interim Executive Vice President and System CFO at Sharp Healthcare, as well as several other vice president and CFO roles.

Labor Expenses

Labor currently makes up about 60% of average hospital expenses, and Watson notes the aging population’s potential to exacerbate the issue.

“When you see the population of the country aging into a higher level of needed care, that's challenging in an environment where staffing is really difficult,” Watson told HealthLeaders. “We're not minting enough nurses or doctors to keep up with current demand.”

The healthcare industry has been in a balancing act with commercial insurance underpinning the subsidization of government programs over the last few decades. Watson thinks that may change with a growing aging population.

“When you're a senior citizen, you want to access care differently than you did when you were younger,” Watson said. “As you start shifting the demographics, it really starts to challenge that historic balance and it's unclear how that's going to work out.”

The Patient Experience

Another top-of-mind goal for this CFO? Creating a friction-less patient experience.

Watson says friction comes into play for a patient when they aren’t in the know. Regardless of a system’s care model, he says the key is to be looking to produce care at an affordable cost point, in the right setting, at the right time, in a manner that is patient friendly.

“I think there's a lot of opportunity to improve that and that's certainly one of the things we're thinking about,” he said. “How do you think about the patient journey, and where those points of friction are? Where are those opportunities, where they're directly related to us, that we can change?”

Going forward, Watson is looking at how leaders can make healthcare "more efficient, effective, and friendly.”

Marie DeFreitas is the finance editor for HealthLeaders.


Watson’s expertise positions him to tackle big issues for his organization

Labor expenses are one top-of-mind issue for this CFO 

Watson shares the concept of ‘taking the friction out’ of the healthcare experience for patients

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