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Three Notes From the Winter CFO Exchange

By Jack O'Brien  
   February 13, 2020

Opportunities to invest in telehealth and get a handle on capital expenditures were top of mind for hospital executives.

More than 30 hospital and health system executives participated in discussion sessions at the HealthLeaders Winter CFO Exchange at the Ritz-Carlton in New Orleans. 

CFOs focused on opportunities and obstacles related to their investment portfolios and the broader healthcare industry.

Going into these conversations, I aimed to have my questions focus on the ongoing shift to value-based care and adjusting to healthcare reforms emerging from Washington, D.C.

Related: Three Questions I Want to Ask at the Winter CFO Exchange

While discussing those topics in detail, leaders also talked about establishing long-term strategic initiatives and responding to pressures from nontraditional players in the market. 

Below are three highlights from Thursday's discussions:

1. Taking chances with telehealth investments

When asked about venturing into the telehealth space, CFOs were split on pursuing solutions based on the availability of resources to invest and the fit for a particular market.

Those who have embraced telemedicine said the service has served as a way to expand care access points and increase opportunities for patients to interact with the system beyond traditional hospital visits.

However, even leaders who have implemented telehealth strategies admitted that there are cost concerns with investing in virtual care solutions and a lack of adequate reimbursement rates.

Related: How CEOs Approach Their Critical Choices: 3 Insights

2. Recruiting for primary care

Prompted by a question about Geisinger Health's decision last fall to make its medical school tuition-free for students pursuing a career in primary care, leaders emphasized the need to recruit and retain physicians, especially those in the primary care space.

Executives said that addressing primary care physician shortages nationwide is crucial for hospitals to meet community needs and divert patients from being frequently admitted to the emergency room.

Some leaders at rural hospitals said they have had issues attracting physicians to work in their markets, while others have explored or instituted loan-forgiveness programs as an incentive to join the organization.

3. Balancing new projects with reinvestment needs

CFOs recognize the inherent challenge between setting money aside for facility renovations while also expanding access points through urgent care centers and ambulatory surgery centers.

Leaders said that capital expenditures on infrastructure and traditional brick-and-mortar hospitals are often at odds with the needs to invest in retail healthcare clinics and virtual care offerings.

This challenge relates to the broader issue of providing care to both baby boomers and milliennials, which are two sizable patient populations with different expectations for treatment and the healthcare experience.

Related: Two Takeaways from the Nurse Leader Exchange

The CFO Exchange is one of six healthcare thought-leadership and networking events that HealthLeaders holds annually, allowing knowledge to be shared in a comfortable setting.

To inquire about the HealthLeaders Exchange program, email us at

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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