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Intersection of Financial and Regulatory Forces is Broadening Roles of Healthcare CFOs
Date:6/24/2008

ny hospitals are experiencing a construction explosion -- with spending on new hospital facilities up 47% over the last five years -- capital is not growing as fast as demand. Lower credit ratings and tighter credit markets have both played a role. With few options, CFOs are seeking greater consolidation of resources and organizations. Merging hospitals can bring savings, potential gains in technology, more leverage with suppliers and power to negotiate with large insurance companies.

Physician relationships: CFOs are seeking to develop more mutually beneficial relationships with physicians to gain a competitive advantage and align with this stakeholder group on reforms. To this end, CFOs see the need to move toward hospital employment of physicians and joint ventures with physician-owned businesses.

Workforce issues: With supply of nurses and other hospital workers falling far short of demand, the cost of labor is skyrocketing. While numbers of qualified applicants to nursing schools is on the rise, dwindling numbers of faculty mean many applicants are turned away.

Quality and pay-for-performance (P4P): While P4P proponents have argued that initiatives will drive dramatic reform in the delivery system, CFOs see goals falling short with incremental improvements at best. CFOs have invested significant sums on quality measures, yet there are few measures to gauge long-term outcomes. The need is great, participants said, to involve doctors in the fabric of hospital leadership and to collectively take ownership for quality.

The race for new technologies: CFOs observe that pressure on providers to invest in new clinical and information technologies is unprecedented. Yet CFOs say new technologies, often enormously expensive, do not always produce improved outcomes or a return on investment. In response, CFOs see scale as one answer. As hospitals consolidate, duplication will be avoided, and expenses and technology purchases can be better levera
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SOURCE Ernst & Young
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