When close to 5,000 healthcare professionals get together to talk numbers, it’s worth paying attention. The Healthcare Finance Management Association Annual National Institute took place in Las Vegas this week. Given the seismic changes in motion relative to the business model of hospitals and healthcare delivery networks, this is likely (and perhaps surprisingly) one of the more important and interesting conferences that will take place in healthcare this year.
In the $3 trillion market which is healthcare, roughly $1 trillion flows directly through hospitals. But the story isn’t what you think it is, as average operating margins are only 2 percent and inpatient volumes have been declining at a rate of close to 2 percent annually for the last few years. With margins that small, volume declining, and this much at stake, clearly the game is going to change in a big way. The bottom line is there is a truly stunning shift in focus taking place in finance, and that was evident at the HMFA conference this year.
This is a landscape view of some of the hot topics, but I think the bottom line is there has never been a better time for new ideas and true collaboration relative to solving healthcare’s most fundamental puzzle — figuring out how to deliver the best and most cost effective care possible to everyone, every day, in every community.
There is a line in a song from the musical Hamilton that says “Look around, look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now.” I think that captures the mindset we need from every stakeholder at the table right now. This is a great time to be in healthcare, perhaps the best.