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How to Navigate Chaos in Healthcare Finance: Insights from Arizona HFMA CFO Panel

The healthcare landscape constantly shifts, driven by disruption, risk, and innovation. At the recent Arizona HFMA (Healthcare Financial Management Association) conference in Scottsdale, AZ, a panel of seasoned Arizona-based CFOs shed light on the challenges and opportunities defining the healthcare industry today. Here are the key takeaways from their insightful discussion:

Balancing Risk and Opportunity in Healthcare

Steve Reichling, CFO of Tucson Medical Center (TMC), emphasized the dynamic nature of the healthcare market. With experience across various industries and just a year in healthcare, Reichling highlighted the current chaos where there is equal risk and opportunity.

He underscored the significance of scrutinizing supplier/vendor contracts, citing the dramatic impact of breaches like the occurrence at Change Healthcare, one of the world’s largest health payment processing companies, on TMC. In response, TMC has embraced High-Reliability Organizations (HROs) principles, emphasizing risk-based approaches and a cautious stance on vendor requests for non-competes.

Moreover, Reichling pointed to the transformative potential of AI, particularly in executive productivity and primary care. While acknowledging the early stages of AI adoption, he expressed optimism about its future applications, citing TMC’s innovative use of ChatGPT for project naming.

Reflecting on TMC’s success, Reichling emphasized the institution’s 80-year legacy of quality care and its locally focused differentiation strategy. Amidst countless good ideas, data-driven decision-making remains crucial for evaluating new initiatives.

Growing Cybersecurity Concerns

Lisa Montman, VP and CFO of HonorHealth, agreed with Reichling’s statements on chaos driving innovation, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic. Montman stressed the need for third-party risk management in supplier contracts, highlighting the transition HonorHealth has faced, in particular with pharmacy services.

Cybersecurity emerged as a growing concern for Montman, who emphasized the need for collaborative efforts and investment in defense mechanisms. AI, she noted, holds promise in augmenting healthcare operations, from ambient listening to threat identification for patient safety.

Montman attributed HonorHealth’s success to its strong culture and commitment to addressing Social Determinants of Health. HonorHealth aims to impact patients’ lives beyond clinical settings by fostering partnerships with physicians and embracing joint ventures.

Leveraging AI and Technology

Staci Dickerson, VP and CFO of Banner Health, also emphasized the complexity and disruption in healthcare today. Cybersecurity looms large on Dickerson’s radar, driving investments in defense mechanisms and risk-based agreements with vendors.

Dickerson stressed the importance of balancing capital allocation amidst evolving technology landscapes, ensuring strategic alignment with Banner Health’s clinical and financial objectives. She underscored Banner Health’s resilient culture and diversification strategy as key pillars of its success.

From optimizing revenue cycles to streamlining operations, Dickerson highlighted Banner Health’s commitment to leveraging AI and technology for sustainable growth. By aligning hospitals with community needs and advocating for better reimbursement, Banner Health aims to navigate the challenges ahead with resilience and innovation.

Enhancing Operational Efficiency

John Bauer, CFO of Arizona’s CommonSpirit Health locations, provided insights into the evolving healthcare landscape, which is marked by escalating costs and unprecedented challenges. Cybersecurity threats and pandemic-induced disruptions highlight the need for proactive risk mitigation strategies.

Drawing from CommonSpirit’s experience, Bauer emphasized the innovative and strategic ownership of their own supply chain elements to effectively mitigate third-party risks. Leveraging AI to optimize the revenue cycle and streamline operations remains a focal point for CommonSpirit’s growth strategy.

Bauer further outlined CommonSpirit’s vision of consolidating systems and software to enhance operational efficiency and reduce costs. CommonSpirit seeks to chart a sustainable path forward amidst industry chaos by prioritizing employee wellness and advocating for fair reimbursement.

Driving Innovation and Resilience in Arizona Healthcare

In conclusion, the Arizona HFMA CFO panel offered valuable insights into navigating the complexities of today’s healthcare landscape. From bolstering cybersecurity defenses to harnessing the transformative power of AI, CFOs are at the forefront of driving innovation and resilience in healthcare organizations across Arizona and beyond.

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