The evolving CFO role, in quotes

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As healthcare evolves, so too are the roles of hospital and health system CFOs.

The CFO role is becoming more strategic as organizations face additional financial pressures and navigate the shift to value-based care. CFOs today generally play a greater role in operations and are seen as business partners by CEOs.

Four panelists provided thoughts on this evolving role during a session at the Becker’s Hospital Review 6th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable in Chicago. Here are quotes from the panelists.

Jim McNey, senior vice president and CFO of North Kansas City (Mo.) Hospital, addressed the development of Centrus Health, a physician-led clinically integrated network including City, Mo.-area physicians across NKCH, the University of Kansas Health System, Merriam, Mo.-based Shawnee Mission Health and Kansas City Metropolitan Physician Association. In these types of scenarios, he said the CFO almost acts like a “salesman.”

“You have to sell these ideas to people who may not be receptive. … You’ve got to go out. You’ve got to get educated. You’ve got to stay current on what’s going on. …You can’t ever quit learning.”

Britt Tabor, executive vice president and CFO/treasurer of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Erlanger Health System, noted the move away from the traditional CFO role.

“What I’ve seen … is there’s [now] dramatic input of the CFO from a strategic and operation standpoint. I’m meeting with two or three physicians a week talking about the business model of the health system.

“As pressures have come, we’ve hired a lot of doctors. I do think physicians are getting the idea that we’ve got to balance the quality, the patient care and the business scene,” he added.

Angela Lalas, senior vice president of finance for Loma Linda (Calif.) University Health, talked about the skills necessary for today’s CFO.

“We’ve [previously] looked at finance professionals as number crunchers and more focused on historical. Now it’s more communication and interpersonal skills [are the] top needs for finance professionals to become impactful and effective.”

Brad Fetters, COO of Prism Healthcare Partners, a healthcare consulting firm, described the finance discipline as “becoming more sophisticated.”

“What I mean by that is the leadership used to be kind of the scorecard — they were in the room to make sure the numbers jived up — then somebody else was working with physicians and influencing. What you’re seeing now … in other industries … [is] when CEOs abruptly leave … they promote the CFO because they’ve gotten more strategic, there [are]softer skills around influencing and changing behaviors. That’s what you’ve got to do with this information so those successful CFOs are in the room kind of influencing everybody.”


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