From the PresidentClarke FY12 

Richard L. Clarke DHA, FHFMA

Current economic conditions, stubbornly high unemployment, large numbers of uninsured persons, and governmental deficits have driven purchasers of healthcare services to demand better value.

Almost everyone agrees that the current system of fragmented care does not create the value we all should expect. HFMA's Value Project has found that healthcare leaders who want to enhance value for purchasers need to build organizational capabilities in the following four areas:

  • Creating a culture that advocates value, collaboration, and accountability
  • Developing robust business intelligence systems that integrate clinical and financial data
  • Driving performance improvement throughout the organization to improve safety, reduce variation, and eliminate waste
  • Building risk and contract management capabilities that create, manage, and mitigate actuarial risk of provider networks of care

Managing cost is an important component of the value equation, and technology is a key enabler for organizations to develop systems and information that reduce cost-the subject of this month's hfm cover story by Siemens executives John Glaser and Ajit Sett.

In addition to fostering technology improvements, healthcare finance leaders must help their organizations rethink the approaches used to organize and report accounting/financial data to decision makers, especially clinical decision makers. Without changing how we capture and organize financial data, new technologies will only "pave over the cow paths" of our existing processes. Automating existing reporting processes and methods will not help decision makers focus on key elements of waste or measure the improvement of processes that drive value.

In multiple surveys, HFMA has found that users of financial data are concerned about the timeliness, accuracy, and design of the reports they receive. So in tandem with identifying and implementing new IT solutions for cost management, we should also rethink how our accounting/financial data are organized and how costing systems are developed and validated, and reconsider the timing and formatting of our reporting. In short, we have to rethink everything.

The second phase of HFMA's Value Project will examine metrics that are needed to communicate value to various stakeholders. This phase also will examine the current and desired state of business intelligence systems (the second capability identified in HFMA's first value report), including costing systems. Helping their organizations develop this capability is a key responsibility of finance leaders. And HFMA's ongoing Value Project will provide needed information and tools for these leaders to rethink their approaches to-and improve the development and use of-business intelligence.

Given the current environment, driving value for purchasers is a key success strategy for all healthcare providers. It is critical that finance leaders improve how they are developing and reporting key accounting and financial information through their business intelligence systems.

Publication Date: Wednesday, February 01, 2012

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