Amazon Care is shutting down at the end of 2022. Here’s why

https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/health-tech/amazon-care-shutting-down-end-2022-tech-giant-said-virtual-primary-care-business-wasnt

Three years after it began piloting a primary care service for its employees that blended telehealth and in-person medical services, Amazon plans to cease operations of its Amazon Care service.

Amazon announced Wednesday afternoon that it would end Amazon Care operations after December 31. In an email to Amazon Health Services employees, Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services, said Amazon Care wasn’t a sustainable, long-term solution for its enterprise customers.

Amazon provided a copy of the email to Fierce Healthcare.

The decision only impacts Amazon Care and Care Medical teams and not Amazon’s other healthcare services. 

While operating Amazon Care, the company “gathered and listened to extensive feedback” from its enterprise customers and their employees and evolved the service to continuously improve the experience for customers.

“However, despite these efforts, we’ve determined that Amazon Care isn’t the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers, and have decided that we will no longer offer Amazon Care after December 31, 2022,” Lindsay wrote.

“This decision wasn’t made lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration. Although our enrolled members have loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it is not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have been targeting, and wasn’t going to work long-term,” he said.

The online retail company piloted virtual urgent care and primary care service with its employees and their families in the Seattle region in 2019.

Amazon Care has since expanded rapidly with telehealth services available in all 50 states and in-person services in at least seven cities, including Dallas, D.C. and Baltimore. As part of its ambitions in healthcare, Amazon then focused on ramping up partnerships with employers and signed on other companies as clients including Silicon Labs, TrueBlue, Whole Foods Market, Precor—a Washington-based fitness equipment company that was acquired by Peloton—and Hilton.

Some industry insiders have said that Amazon Care struggled to gain a foothold with employer clients.

The company was on track to rapidly expand its hybrid care model to more than 20 additional cities in 2022, including major metropolitan areas like San Francisco, Miami, Chicago and New York City.

CEO Andy Jassy has made health care a priority, naming Amazon Care as an example of “iterative innovation” in his first letter to shareholders earlier this year. In July, the company announced plans to buy concierge primary care provider One Medical in a deal valued at approximately $3.9 billion.

If the One Medical deal goes through, it would significantly expand Amazon’s foothold in the nearly $4 trillion healthcare market, specifically in the competitive primary care market.

One Medical markets itself as a membership-based, tech-integrated, consumer-focused primary care platform. The company operates 188 offices in 29 markets. At the end of March, One Medical had 767,000 members.

The deal also gives Amazon rapid access to the lucrative employer market as One Medical works with 8,000 companies.

The One Medical acquisition has not yet closed.

Lindsay said the company’s work building Amazon Care has deepened its understanding of “what’s needed long-term to deliver meaningful health care solutions for enterprise and individual customers.

“I believe the health care space is ripe for reinvention, and our efforts to help improve the health care experience can have an immensely positive impact on our quality of life and health outcomes. However, none of these reasons make this decision any easier for the teams that have helped to build Amazon Care, or for the customers our Care team serves,” he wrote.

The decision to cease Amazon Care’s operations will likely mean some employees will be laid off. Lindsay said in his email to employees that many Amazon Care employees will have an opportunity to join other parts of the Health Services organization or other teams at Amazon. “Well also support employees looking for roles outside of the company,” he said.

JP Morgan Chase’s Morgan Health invests $30M in Centivo

https://mailchi.mp/efa24453feeb/the-weekly-gist-july-22-2022?e=d1e747d2d8

Centivo, a Buffalo, New York-based health plan administrator for self-funded employers, has clients in 13 states. Founded in 2019, the company works with national and mid-market employers and health system partners to deliver a consumer-forward, access-driven model, creating customized provider networks that include free primary care and an unlimited virtual care option.

The company aims to reduce consumer out-of-pocket exposure and overall employee healthcare costs by identifying and partnering with high-performing providers in each market it serves. Using this model, Centivo is able to lower costs for self-insured employers by at least 15 percent compared to traditional insurers, through narrow networks with low-cost, high-quality providers.

Morgan Health, which has styled itself as a private sector version of Medicare’s innovation center, has invested $85M in companies that look to transform employer-sponsored healthcare—taking stakes in Seattle-based primary-care company Vera Whole Health and Nashville-based Embold Health, in addition to Centivo.  

The Gist: We’ve had the opportunity to work directly with the Centivo team since its early days, as outside advisors. We’ve been continually impressed by the company’s success in navigating the complicated landscape of self-funded employers, broker relationships, and incumbent health systems. 

The “ground war” of piecing together these bespoke offerings for employers stands in stark contrast to the approach of traditional payers, who simply aggregate scale and rely on brute-force pricing leverage to manage employer cost trend. 

It’s also an interesting juxtaposition to Amazon and other “disruptors”, who bring a relatively naïve, Silicon Valley view to healthcare, and often find themselves frustrated by just how hard it is to drive change amid overwhelming complexity.   

Amazon to acquire primary care company One Medical for $3.5B

https://mailchi.mp/efa24453feeb/the-weekly-gist-july-22-2022?e=d1e747d2d8

While Amazon has been amassing a range of healthcare assets in recent years, including an online pharmacy, virtual and in-home care capabilities, and even diagnostics, this marks the e-commerce giant’s first significant push into bricks-and-mortar healthcare delivery.

One Medical, which went public in 2020, operates 182 medical offices in 25 markets, and acquired Medicare-focused primary care provider Iora Health last year. It offers an access-forward, concierge-lite model to employer clients and individual consumers, and more recently has pursued a partnership strategy with anchor health systems in the markets where it operates.

The Gist: Amazon’s pricey purchase of One Medical, for which it will pay a 77 percent premium over market value, is sure to set the healthcare punditocracy afire—even more than its earlier, ill-fated arrangement with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway.

Clearly, Amazon is shifting from a build-and-tinker to a buy-and-scale approach to its Amazon Care business, which has been slow off the mark since the company first started selling its own employee clinic services to other employers. With One Medical, Amazon gets thousands more employer relationships, a much larger physical footprint, and a buzzy brand in primary care.

But the deal is less “disruptive” than it might first appear. There is still a missing piece—namely, a risk model that lets Amazon profit from managing patients in the primary care setting. One Medical’s model is expensive—it has yet to turn a profit—and despite the acquisition of Iora’s population health platform, it has doubled down on creating linkages with high-cost health systems rather than truly investing in care management. 

Primary care on its own is not an attractive growth business, even in a hybrid virtual/in-person model, even at Amazon’s scale. To truly disrupt healthcare, Amazon will need to wade into the risk business, either by partnering with a health plan or creating its own risk arrangements with employer clients.

That’s going to be hard, for all the same reasons that Haven was hard—entrenched payer relationships, slow-moving benefits managers, and a murky and conflicted broker channel. We’d love to be proven wrong, but this deal feels less like true innovation and more like a frothy story for slide decks and conference panels.

Amazon to acquire One Medical in $3.9B deal

Amazon plans to acquire virtual and in-person primary care company One Medical, the online retailer said July 21.  

In a cash deal valued at $3.9 billion, the aim is to combine One Medical’s technology and team with Amazon, it said in a news release. The goal of the acquisition, according to the two companies, is to offer more convenient and affordable healthcare in-person and virtually.

“The opportunity to transform healthcare and improve outcomes by combining One Medical’s human-centered and technology-powered model and exceptional team with Amazon’s customer obsession, history of invention and willingness to invest in the long-term is so exciting,” said Amir Dan Rubin, CEO of One Medical, in a company news release. “There is an immense opportunity to make the healthcare experience more accessible, affordable, and even enjoyable, for patients, providers and payers. We look forward to innovating and expanding access to quality healthcare services together.”

Amazon will acquire One Medical for $18 per share.

Completion of the transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including approval by One Medical’s shareholders and regulatory approval. 

If the acquisition is approved, Mr. Rubin will remain CEO of One Medical. 

Oracle, Cerner plan to build national medical records database as Larry Ellison pitches bold vision for healthcare

https://www.fiercehealthcare.com/health-tech/oracle-cerner-plan-build-national-medical-records-database-ellison-pitches-bold-vision

Oracle’s chairman Larry Ellison outlined a bold vision Thursday for the database giant to use the combined tech power of Oracle and Cerner to make access to medical records more seamless.

Days after closing its $28.3 billion acquisition of electronic health record company Cerner, Ellison said Oracle plans to build a national health record database that would pull data from thousands of hospital-centric EHRs.

In a virtual briefing Thursday, Ellison highlighted many long-standing problems with interoperability in healthcare. “Your electronic health data is scattered across a dozen or separate databases. One for every provider you’ve ever visited. This patient data fragmentation and EHR fragmentation causes tremendous problems,” he said.

“We’re going to solve this problem by putting a unified national health records database on top of all of these thousands of separate hospital databases. So we’re building a system where the health records all American citizens’ health records not only exist at the hospital level but also are in a unified national health records database.”

The concept of the national health records database, which would hold anonymized data, Ellison said, is to help doctors and clinicians have faster access to patient records when providing care. Anonymized health data in that national database could also be used to build artificial intelligence models to help diagnose diseases such as cancer.

Better information is the key to transforming healthcare,” he said. “Better information will allow doctors to deliver better patient outcomes. Better information will allow public health officials to develop much better public health policy and it will fundamentally lower healthcare costs overall.”

Oracle also plans to modernize Cerner’s Millennium EHR platform with updated features such as voice interface, more telehealth capabilities and disease-specific AI models, Ellison said.

He highlighted a partnership between health tech company Ronin, a clinical decision support solution, and MD Anderson to create a disease-specific AI model that monitors cancer patients as they work through their treatments.

“The people at Oracle are not going to be developing these AI models. But our platform, Cerner Millennium, is an open system and allows medical professionals at MD Anderson, who are experts in treating cancer, to add these AI modules to help other doctors treat cancer patients,” Ellison said.

The purchase of Cerner, which marks Oracle’s biggest acquisition, gives the database giant a stronger foothold in healthcare. Ellison said the company’s enterprise resource planning (ERP) and HR software already is widely used in healthcare. 

But the company will face the same long-standing barriers to sharing health data that have stymied other interoperability efforts. There also could be pushback from the industry to any effort by a tech giant to build a nationalized health database.

In March 2020, the federal government released rules laying the groundwork to give patients easier access to their digital health records through their smartphones. The regulation, which went into effect in April 2021, requires health IT vendors, providers and health information exchanges to enable patients to access and download their health records with third-party apps. Under the rule, providers can’t inhibit the access, exchange or use of health information unless the data fall within eight exceptions.

Interoperability experts point out there are already efforts underway to create a more unified database of health records, such Cerner competitor Epic’s Cosmos, which is a de-identified patient database combining the company’s EHR data of over 122 million patients.

Former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair is backing Ellison’s vision for building a unified health database. Blair, who leads the nonprofit Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, partners with Oracle to use its cloud technology to tackle health issues.

Speaking at the virtual event, Blair said a unified health records system will “empower citizens and provide clinicians and other care providers with immediate access to their health history and treatment without chasing it down from disparate sources.”

David Feinberg, M.D., who took the reins as Cerner CEO just four months before the acquisition was announced in December, said he was excited about the potential for Oracle and Cerner to advance data sharing.

“We’re bringing world-class technology coupled with a deep and long history of understanding how healthcare works. I don’t think anyone’s ever done that,” said Feinberg, now president and CEO of Oracle Cerner.

Oracle’s Acquisition of Cerner: The Future of Healthcare

https://blogs.oracle.com/healthcare/post/oracle-acquisition-of-cerner-the-future-of-healthcare

Prioritizing outcomes in healthcare is long overdue and now within reach following Oracle’s acquisition of Cerner. To achieve more seamless, coordinated care, technology must play a greater role in reframing solutions for health and well-being around the world.

Combining Cerner’s clinical capabilities with Oracle’s enterprise platform, analytics, and automation expertise will change health and wellness in a way that simply hasn’t been possible before. We’ll provide secure and reliable solutions that deliver health insights and experiences to dramatically change how health is managed by patients, providers, and payors. The industry has never been riper for change.

Designing for people

Healthcare is innately personal; however, the industry often loses sight of the human side of health as delivering and understanding care has become increasingly disconnected and complex. Research reveals that doctors spend nearly twice as much time on administrative work as they do engaging with patients. If we replaced clinicians’ time spent performing administrative tasks with patient interactions, imagine how dramatically we could improve quality of care. Technology-induced administrative burden contributes to burnout, which has, in part, resulted in a workforce shortage and overshadowed the true benefits of healthcare technology. Clinicians didn’t enter medicine to spend half of their time conducting routine tasks and completing required documentation; they chose their profession to practice at the top of their license. We’re working to make this a reality, providing a toolset that supports clinical decision making and prioritizes the user experience.

For care delivery organizations, we’ll develop new cloud-enabled capabilities allowing providers to access the information they need, where and when they need it, on an interface that is easy to use. This will significantly reduce the time and effort required to find a patient’s information, even if the information is scattered across different providers or care settings. We’ll help people access and manage their own health information from wherever they are, so that they have a stronger voice in their care and can conduct more meaningful conversations with their providers. When successful, these improvements ultimately increase the value of healthcare and have the additional benefit of contributing data to population health insights.

Collaborative, interoperable care

In a complex and inefficient healthcare industry, interoperability is critical; but, it hasn’t been widely adopted between organizations. From the patient perspective, data silos limit patients’ empowerment and involvement in their health and well-being. It is vitally important that medical records are portable. Regardless of where someone receives care, their records should be accessible and unified. From a clinical perspective, interoperability ensures clinicians can properly review a patient’s entire medical history within their workflow and provide appropriate, contextual treatment.

recent survey shows a staggering 97% of healthcare executives have called for increased healthcare data interoperability, the lack of which inhibits digital transformation and innovation within organizations and throughout the broader industry. Oracle is committed to open APIs to ensure any authorized user can consume health data and insights. We know a closed system will not create connectivity and unification across the many existing players and systems. Creating more solutions without an open ecosystem commitment would only contribute to the problems we see today with fractured and siloed systems.

Oracle will harness the power of data to create a collaborative ecosystem where people, patients, providers, and payors can securely access clinical, operational, and financial data on the cloud. These efforts will break down data silos and provide open systems that talk to—and connect with—one another to generate actionable, scalable, and global insights previously unavailable. Industry fragmentation impacts both patients and providers, but Oracle has the power to aggregate data into a single source of truth to achieve better outcomes.

Improved efficiency across the system

While enhanced clinical systems will improve experiences bedside and lead to better public health outcomes, back-office operations must also be improved to drive true efficiency, reduce costs, and make the business of healthcare more predictable. Oracle’s Fusion application suite can create this bridge between the bedside and the back-office, enhancing employee experience (better retention, less administration), streamlining the supply chain (reduced shrinkage, better inventory management), and giving the executive a better understanding of the issues impacting their business (greater predictability and cost control).

Secure healthcare data

Unfortunately, we know that retail, finance, and health data are the most targeted in security breaches. Patient privacy and the security of health data, when left unaddressed, threaten what the information of health exchange is solely meant to protect­­: patient safety. It’s time to raise health data security to an unprecedented level of investment and focus.

Oracle is an industry leader in securely storing, processing, and analyzing large volumes of cloud-based data. We’ll continue to apply the same security-obsessed focus to healthcare as we do to all industries, ­allowing people, patients, providers, and payors to safely access insights that improve care and advance decision-making. Oracle has been trusted with some of the world’s most sensitive and regulated data for more than 44 years. For the financial services industry specifically, Oracle already serves customers in more than 140 countries and manages risk for 24 of the world’s 28 systemically important financial institutions (SIFIs).

Meeting the moment

While we already knew this industry was ready for change, the pandemic amplified and accelerated the world’s readiness to see that change. We aim to meet this moment leveraging the technology and expertise that have revolutionized other industries, as well as applying new innovations to transform these systems of record into systems of intelligence.

Combining our existing healthcare industry solutions—from clinical trials to health insurance payor solutions to public health analysis systems—with our acquisition of Cerner, we believe Oracle has a uniquely positioned opportunity to offer new solutions to a broken healthcare system. We plan to support the entire lifecycle of healthcare, going beyond traditional health IT to integrate our infrastructure, platform, and applications capabilities for a more fully connected operational, administrative, and clinical system. 

We are fully committed to the partnerships that will be instrumental to this journey. The technology and the world are ready for transformation. This is just the beginning.

Hospital At Home Is Not Just For Hospitals

https://www.healthaffairs.org/do/10.1377/forefront.20220520.712735/#.Yo5Jf1zjH8c.linkedin

Hospital at Home programs deliver needed services to appropriate patients in their homes and can effectively serve patients, payers, and providers. The programs provide physician visits, drugs, monitoring, nursing services, diagnostics, and other services at a level typically reserved for patients in inpatient settings. A typical Hospital at Home patient has features that make home care preferable, for example, they may present to an emergency department with uncomplicated, simple pneumonia, have no significant comorbidities, and live with a partner who can provide basic care, such as preparing meals. Studies have shown these programs have lower readmission rates, lower payer costs, and higher patient satisfaction. Patients prefer their homespayers prefer having patients get care in the least acute setting possible, and hospital providers want to have beds available for patients who need them.

While Hospital at Home programs have been studied since the 1970s, adoption had been slow until the COVID-19 public health emergency (PHE) prompted the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to waive the Medicare Hospital Conditions of Participation to enable the use of this care delivery model for Medicare beneficiaries. In 2020, CMS implemented the Acute Hospital Care at Home Waiver, which establishes Medicare payment for home hospitalizations. The combination of the PHE and CMS’s regulatory response has generated huge demand for Hospital at Home. By July 2021, eight months after the Acute Hospital Care at Home Waiver program was established, more than 140 hospitals across 66 health systems were approved by CMS to provide hospital services in a home setting. Because of COVID-19, patients and providers have quickly embraced telehealth, and that “stay at home” attitude may bring Hospital at Home into the mainstream. In 2019, the Medicare population had more than 800,000 hospitalizations, which could have qualified for Hospital at Home. As the care delivery model grows in the post-PHE, some important questions remain, such as how insurers will reimburse providers for Hospital at Home services and the types of provider organizations that will embrace this novel care delivery model.

Top-Down And Bottom-Up Payment Approaches

Medicare currently pays for Hospital at Home using a top-down (hospital-centered) payment—the payment is made to hospitals, and the amount is based on Medicare’s payment system for acute inpatient admissions. An alternative, bottom-up approach could generate a payment amount on the basis of existing home-based care payment systems, with additions for the expanded services needed for the more acute patients in a Hospital at Home model. Because home care providers are typically reimbursed at lower rates, this approach to payment would be less expensive and could capitalize on the existing in-home care expertise these providers have, while expanding their reach to a higher-acuity patient population. The co-authors have compared payment options for home hospitalization programs under both the top-down and bottom-up approaches.

Transformation Challenges

The Hospital at Home delivery model faces three significant and related challenges to expansion—generating a sufficient volume of patients to keep local programs in business, achieving cost efficiencies, and defining appropriate patients (not so sick that the patients will fail to heal or be in danger but not so healthy that they don’t need Hospital at Home).

Any health care innovation needs patient volume to be viable. A Hospital at Home program requires teams that can immediately access and deliver all needed care, including diagnostics, monitoring, pharmaceuticals, and nursing services. It also requires physicians adept at working with home-based patients while coordinating all aspects of care. Patient intake and discharge must be handled promptly, including care plans for the patient during their Hospital at Home “stay” and transitioning the patient to their regular providers after the acute phase. Much, but not all, of this infrastructure exists in home health agencies, but Hospital at Home patients typically have more time-sensitive and intense needs than the usual home health patient, which will require some staff expansion by a home health agency seeking to run a Hospital at Home program. A few patients a day will not likely generate enough revenue to maintain the staff expertise or the infrastructure needed to deliver all the different services Hospital at Home patients need.

While it might seem logical that Hospital at Home programs would be sponsored and operated by individual hospitals, many hospitals would not generate sufficient volume to support their own program. In 2019, the national average discharge rate per hospital bed was about 33 per year, and about half were Medicare beneficiaries. A large hospital with 1,000 beds might have 15,000 Medicare discharges per year. On average, we found about 5 percent of Medicare discharges would be eligible for Hospital at Home—only about 15 per week for a 1,000-bed hospital. A program sponsored by a particular hospital might not receive referral patients from competing hospitals because the competing hospitals would be losing patient volume and revenue, and except for extremely large hospital systems, most hospitals would not generate sufficient volume to support the program. A program that serves multiple hospitals will likely have advantages of scale.

When it comes to cost, hospital-based services are well-known to bear facility overhead expenses, which can make hospital-based services more expensive than services delivered from other sites. Medicare pays for hospital inpatient services mostly using diagnosis-related groups. Medicare pays a pre-set amount for each kind of admission, regardless of the actual cost accrued by the provider for a particular patient. But as our analysis shows, starting with Medicare’s home care reimbursement saves the payer more than 50 percent of an acute patient stay, when considering all facility, professional, and ancillary services. Of course, the lower price is appealing to a payer, such as a Medicare Advantage plan, but it could also save a patient money in reduced cost sharing.

Identifying the right patients for medical interventions has been a challenge for decades. The goal is to strike the right balance: avoiding unnecessary care but not skimping on needed care. To promote efficiency and outcomes, private payers and Medicare apply utilization management reviews and quality monitoring. Even for patients appropriate for Hospital at Home, hospitals may dislike the programs, as they fail to see the value of home-based care delivery in the face of many unfilled inpatient beds. On the other hand, home health agency-based Hospital at Home programs could see financial gains and tend to over-use such programs. All of this must be balanced with patient perceptions and acceptance of such programs. Participants who have piloted both top-down and bottom-up models have found substantially higher patient acceptance in models that allow entry to a Hospital at Home admission without an emergency department visit, which is typically required of top-down models. Clearly, use and quality management programs will be needed to achieve the right balance of these competing interests, and value based programs can help align incentives as well.

Bottom Line

Most research and proposals for implementing home hospitalization programs assume they are an extension of hospital operations and assume hospital costs and reimbursement. But there are cost and other advantages to building home hospitalization on the foundation of home-based care providers, whose expertise includes keeping patients safe and healthy at home. Policy makers who design reimbursement for home hospitalization programs and set conditions for providers to participate in them should consider whether home-based care providers should be eligible to manage, or play a foundational role in, these programs. This could simultaneously save payers money, create operational efficiencies, and increase patient access. Physicians and hospitals sponsoring these programs should similarly consider the roles home-based care providers could play within current home hospitalization programs. Simply extending the reach of hospitals into patients’ homes is unlikely to allow the promising scale or cost savings stakeholders hope for from home hospitalization programs. Each year, hundreds of thousands of Medicare patients could benefit.

When consumer health technology leapfrogs medical science 

At a recent health system physician leadership retreat, two cardiologists presented a fascinating update on the electrophysiology (EP) service line. Electrophysiologists use advanced heart mapping and ablation technologies to diagnose, pinpoint, and treat abnormal heart rhythms, and the field has made dramatic advances over the past decade. The success rate of interventions has risen, and procedures which used to take hours in a cath lab are now performed in a fraction of the time—with some patients even able to go home same-day. 

This increased efficiency has expanded the EP program’s capacity, but the system still finds itself overwhelmed with demand. The system is located in a high-growth market, and demand is also fueled by shifting demographics, with more aging Baby Boomers seeking care. But a key driver of growth has been the spread of “smart watches” like the Apple Watch and Fitbit, which tout the ability to detect abnormal heart rhythms like atrial fibrillation. With “half of the community walking around with an EKG on their wrist”, the number of patients seeking evaluations for “a-fib” has skyrocketed: at this system, over 50 percent growth in patient volume, leading to 25 jump in procedures during the pandemic. 
 
While the doctors were excited about growth, they also stressed the need to rethink care pathways to make sure that electrophysiologists’ time was prioritized for the patients who needed it most. The system should look to develop care pathways and technology that enable other physicians to readily triage and manage routine atrial fibrillation.

But smartwatch-driven self-diagnosis raises larger questions about how doctors and hospitals must adapt when consumer technology outpaces the science evaluating its effectiveness, and the health system’s ability to meet new demand. With private equity firms now focused on acquiring cardiology practices, this massive spike of demand, coupled with the ability to move more heart rhythm procedures outpatient, is seen by investors as a significant profit opportunity—making it even more critical for doctors, researchers, and hospitals to ensure that sound clinical guidelines are developed to drive high-quality, appropriate management.  

The important role of the CFO in innovation

Although CFOs often hold the key to resources, acting as gatekeepers, they can also be critical allies in innovation, enabling programs and initiatives, according to an April 12 McKinsey report

While innovation is often thought of in a traditional sense, with new offerings and services coming to mind, innovation can also mean disruption and change in business models, productivity improvements and new ways to service consumers. The CFO has the perspective to see where fresh ideas are needed in the business from a financial perspective, and the power to make them happen.

Innovation also requires resources and capital, of which the CFO has control and say as to how it gets used. The CFO is an important part of determining which innovations will go ahead and is akin to a venture capitalist, deciding whether to invest in a start-up. 

As members of the C-suite, CFOs also have an important role in encouraging a culture of openness and innovation where staff members feel comfortable coming to company leaders with new ideas. By creating an atmosphere of innovation, the company can build a pipeline of innovative talent and concepts, which the CFO can help bring to fruition.