2014 HFMA Annual National Institute Conference

Day One: Healthcare transformation is BIG

hfma buildingThe theme of HFMA’s 2014 Annual National Institute (ANI) conference, being held in Las Vegas, is “This is BIG.” Healthcare is facing a number of BIG issues in healthcare transformation:

  • Regulatory impact of reform rules
  • Business intelligence and analytics
  • Cost management/margin transformation
  • Clinical integration/culture
  • Organizing for value
  • Revenue cycle
  • Payment trends
  • Finance and operations

While the issues are daunting, we have the responsibility and ability for addressing the challenges. Margaret Mead was quoted by Kari Cornicelli, FHFMA, CPA, as the example for us to follow, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only that ever has.”

Two Opening-Day Themes: Transparency, and All of Us Are in Sales

joseph fiferJoe Fifer, President and CEO, HFMA, kicked off the event by sharing the HFMA dollars and sense framework, a framework that focuses on price transparency, patient financial communications, and medical account resolution as shown in the figure below.

The time for saying that healthcare is complicated is over. Consumers have access to data and are demanding transparency in price. They want to understand the value of the care they are getting for their money.  We, as healthcare professionals, are going to be held to the same price transparency standards as other industries.

healthcare dollars and sense

Joe shared that only approximately 11 percent of payments in 2013 were value-based payments. That creates a conundrum for healthcare organizations. The incentives are not currently aligned to reducing costs and increasing outcomes.  The healthcare clients I work with understand that although healthcare hasn’t yet reached the tipping point of value-based payments, it is coming and they are using healthcare analytics to improve population health, improve patient satisfaction, and drive improved outcomes.

Like It or Not, We’re All in Sales

we're all salesDaniel Pink was the keynote speaker. Daniel served as the chief speechwriter to Vice President Al Gore and has authored five books, including, To Sell is Human. He could have been on our healthcare analytics team with his statement, “Hunch is good. But data is better.” His research showed that while only one in nine people in the U.S. consider themselves a sales person, nearly everyone will answer in the affirmative when asked whether their work involves convincing or persuading people to give something they value.

Whether you are a healthcare chief financial officer, physician, or RN, or you play another healthcare role, we are all in sales as we work, for example, to persuade a patient to take certain self-care steps or present a compelling business case to our CEO for additional clinic resources. Unfortunately, if you’re like most people, the sales person title carries a negative connotation. In Daniel’s research, the number one descriptor for a sales person, was “pushy.” Other high-ranking words to describe sales or selling included “difficult, hard, sleazy, ugh, yuck, dishonest, and annoying.” There was a 4:1 ratio of negative to positive words.

Knowing that everyone is in sales, Daniel went to the business schools to learn how to teach people to be effective sales people. He found that business schools don’t teach sales. So, he did his own research on what it takes to be an effective sales person and found three characteristics: attunement, buoyancy, and clarity.

He defined attunement as the ability to see something for someone else’s perspective. When you lack coercive power, you have to understand someone else’s perspective, find common ground, and develop alignment. Buoyancy relates to knowing how to de-personalize and move forward when rejected. Lastly, clarity is how you curate information, having the expertise to access the data and make sense of it. Daniel shared that medical schools are now teaching doctors how to respond to patients who walk in with a stack of papers they’ve gotten off the internet. The schools are teaching doctors how to explain what valid research studies are, to share how one study may supersede the study the patient found,  and what studies may be useful.

No surprise. This ties into the topic of transparency, something Texas Children’s Hospital’s surgical, quality, and analytics teams focus on in their appendectomy care improvement work.

In Healthcare, It’s Not Just About the Numbers: Linking Clinical and Financial Data

Following the keynote speaker, there was a reception in the exhibitor’s hall. An internist and former CMO for United Healthcare came by our Health Catalyst booth. She said, “I’d like to know more about what your company does. Everyone has posters about revenue cycle management or finance. Your booth is the only one that I’ve seen that talks about patients, and linking clinical and financial data.” She shared with me that even before CMS started focusing on readmissions, she and her team recognized the opportunity to reduce readmissions for heart failure patients. We talked about the necessity of linking clinical and financial data and that analytics alone doesn’t get you what you need. You need to effectively deploy evidence-based practices that can be measured and adjusted to meet your goals.

Tomorrow offers more great learning opportunities, including a workshop by Dr. Charles Macias from Texas Children’s Hospital and Bobbi Brown, VP at Health Catalyst, on blending clinical and financial data to drive the value equation.

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