CFOs plan more active role in healthcare digital transformation

Digital transformation will be a critical period for health systems and other organizations in the healthcare industry, with the majority of healthcare chief financial officers planning significant investment in digital strategies.

What happened?

These were among the results of a Black Book survey of nearly 1,600 hospital and health system CFOs and other executives, which also indicated healthcare finance technologies will be tied to optimized financial processes.

Among those technologies are data mining for strategic analysis, reducing operational costs and streamlining financial reporting.

What is the trend?

The survey results indicated future investments are moving toward improving patient experience and differentiating from the competitors through a slew of technological innovations, ranging from financial systems to patient payment interactions.

The top IT challenges are system integration across the healthcare organization, cited by a whopping 92 percent of survey respondents, followed by the upkeep of current financial legacy systems and a lack of financial IT talent.

Nearly eight in 10 of health system CFOs surveyed said they plan to increase their investment in digital transformations by the end of 2020, with nearly 70 percent predicting an increase of more than 20 percent by the end of the first quarter of 2020.

On the record

“Over the past five years, investment strategies for digital transformation have been influenced among healthcare providers more by the desire to improve operational performance and reduce costs,” said Black Book president Doug Brown.

He noted the hospital financial functions that could benefit immensely from technology investments have been routinely deprioritized for the past five years because of budgets required for pricey electronic health records implementations.

“Investment decisions have been made even more complex because there has been fluidity in healthcare organizations in determining key performance indicators to measure the financial success of new information technologies like population health tools,” Brown continued.

The vast majority (90 percent) of CFOs surveyed said they expect to move to active implementations of transformational software and services in 2020 – with few proven cases of digitization in healthcare finance, including few best practices to pattern after, CFOs indicated that until now they had been content to let chief information officers pursue the issue.

Seventy percent of CFOs surveyed said their financial transactions processes are outdated, and 85 percent of senior healthcare financial leaders surveyed said they do not have suitable financial metrics to gauge the return on investment for IT.

However, 94 percent of healthcare systems and provider organizations surveyed said they anticipate a significant shift in IT spending to the CFO’s office next year.

“Future investments in healthcare financial automation will focus on better strategy, analysis and predictions for growth,” Brown said.

Nathan Eddy is a healthcare and technology freelancer based in Berlin.

Email the writer: [email protected]

Twitter: @dropdeaded209

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