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Two Health System Successes From One CFO

Analysis  |  By Marie DeFreitas  
   July 03, 2024

From tech innovation to sustainability wins, how one health system does it.

For Allina Health’s new CFO Doug Watson, there are two things at his health system that are making big strides. In a previous interview with HealthLeaders, Watson shared the main pain points he is facing in his organization, discussing labor expenses and his thoughts on how to make the patient experience a “friction-less” one. Now we’re talking wins, and how Watson’s health system puts their best foot forward.

Smaller Environmental Footprint = Smaller Costs

Outside of Watson’s new role, Allina Health recently made headlines for two other initiatives: an environmental sustainability award and a mobile app for breast cancer patients.

There are numerous benefits for health systems who accel sustainability efforts, from avoiding medical waste disposal fines to cutting costs, to having a positive impact on the surrounding community. At Allina, these benefits are not overlooked.

In May, Allina Health was awarded the 2024 System for Change Award by Practice Greenhealth for the second consecutive year, one of many awards held by Allina for its sustainability efforts. Watson points out that striving for sustainability is a win-win for health systems: sustainable practices equates to cost savings.

“We take our social responsibility very seriously,” Watson said. “If we can produce things more efficiently and more effectively with the same amount of resources, then it's a win both economically and environmentally.”

Tech Innovation

Cancer Connection is Allina’s new mobile app that provides breast cancer patients with accessible information to navigate their diagnosis and have control over their treatment, this is one of four apps that Allina offers to their patients. The app features a learning library, a customizable to-do list, and features to help patients prepare for appointments.

New tech like AI and automation have made huge strides in helping burned out medical staff; the reported burnout rate amongst healthcare workers was nearing 50% last year.

Watson spoke about the opportunities for healthcare to advance innovative tech not only to tackle hefty medical costs, but to significantly improve clinician’s quality of life.

“I think there's a huge opportunity as we start to think about how to get technology and use it to either take friction out, or to help our clinicians be able to be more effective, work more at the top of their individual license, and also hopefully improve quality of life for them,” Watson said. “Then they can do what they got into health care for to begin with, which is to be connected to the patient.”

Allina isn’t new to the health tech game, and Watson shared his intentions to keep the innovation wheel spinning to improve patient care.

Marie DeFreitas is the finance editor for HealthLeaders.


CFOs should look at sustainability efforts as a win-win.

Innovative tech can be used to significantly improve clinician’s quality of life.

Allina Health plans to keep the innovation wheel spinning.

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