The role of hospital and health system CFO has changed in recent years. CFOs are now change agents within their organizations and are deeply embedded in the day-to-day operations of the business.
Speaking on a panel called “The Evolving Role of the CFO” at the Becker’s Hospital Review 8th Annual CEO + CFO Roundtable in November, a panel of health system CFOs and finance leaders from across the country discussed how the finance chief role has changed and expanded.
The five panelists were:
- Jeanette Wojtalewicz, senior vice president of Omaha, Neb.-based CHI Health
- Nicholas Mendyka, vice president of system finance operations at Minneapolis-based Allina Health
- Doug Welday, CFO of Evanston, Ill.-based NorthShore University HealthSystem
- Kris Zimmer, CFO of St. Louis-based SSM Health
- Mike Browning, CFO of Columbus-based OhioHealth
Here are three takeaways from the discussion:
1. CFOs are strategic leaders. The panelists noted that younger CFOs — those in their early 30s — come to the role with a fresh viewpoint. They are strategic and drive performance across the organization. Though CFOs who have been in the role for a decade or two may have a more traditional viewpoint, they’re adapting to the role of the modern CFO and embracing their more strategic position.
2. CFOs need different skills than in the past. The CFO role has expanded beyond traditional finance and accounting, and the skills CFOs need have changed too. When recruiting new members to their teams, the CFOs on the panel said they look for candidates with natural curiosity, data visualization skills and natural leadership abilities.
3. Clinician-finance partnerships are important. New payment models link quality of care to reimbursement, making it vital for CFOs and their teams to develop an understanding of the clinical side of the business. This has caused some health system CFOs to change their approach to training. The panelists said they try to help their teams develop an understanding of each department and learn how clinical and finance are connected.