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Role of the Healthcare CFO Both Unique and Challenging, continued from page 1 Pat Keel Title, organizations – Chief Financial Officer and Senior Vice President, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Birthplace – Landstuhl, Germany. Education – Bachelor of Science in Accounting from Arkansas State University and a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from Trinity University in San Antonio. Experience –With more than 25 years of experience in healthcare, Keel leads the financial strategy and management at St. Jude. She came to the hospital in 2016 to help launch a six-year strategic plan to expand clinical care and research programs worldwide.  Prior to joining St. Jude, she served as CFO and senior vice president for University Health in Louisiana, and also served on Governor John Bell Edwards’ Healthcare Transition Team. In 2015, 2016, and 2017 she was selected for Becker’s Hospital Review list of “130 Women Hospital and Health System Leaders to Know.”  She has held leadership roles in operations and finance at Good Shepherd Health System in Texas and at CHRISTUS Health in Louisiana.            

organizations with drastically different financial structures sat down with Pamela Harris, publisher of Memphis Medical News, and discussed the budgeting challenges they face to ensure that their organizations run smoothly, as well as how their decisions directly affect patient care and medical staff. According to all five CFOs, their roles aren’t about saying “no” to department budgets, but about coming up with creative strategies so all medical staff can perform their jobs to their maximum potential while achieving patient satisfaction, especially during financially lean times. Participants in the roundtable discussion were: • Pat Keel, senior vice president, CFO, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital • Tina Kovacs, Memphis market CFO, Saint Francis Hospital • Brent Patterson, CFO, Semmes Murphey Clinic • Rick Wagers, executive vice president, CFO, Regional One Health • Kimberly Young, CFO, Baptist Medical Group  

Impact on Patient Care

All five CFOs agreed that direct interaction with patients makes a difference in how financial decisions are made in regard to patient care. In order to make informed decisions, many MidSouth hospital CFOs round with hospital staff regularly to get direct feedback from both patients and staff. “You live and die by your budget,” said Saint Francis’ Kovacs. “You have to keep in mind your community’s needs. It’s important to make clinical rounds 8


JULY 2018

with patients and staff on a consistent basis, so you can make sure they have what they need. I do patient rounds on a daily basis and follow up with the same patients on off-shift times. This has improved our patient satisfaction.” According to Young, CFO with Baptist Medical Group, rounding is especially important for the CFO to observe how patients’ needs are being met. She said the CFO must see how everything affects the patient so hospital leadership can keep in mind the ramifications of every financial decision, especially when budgets are tight.

“Making clinical rounds changes your perspective,” Young said. “You physically see patients fighting for their lives. It makes an impact emotionally. It’s especially imperative during those times when budgets are tight and there’s no more money.” Additionally, Patterson, at Semmes Murphey, said it’s important for the CFO to plan ahead for financial scenarios years in advance. “It’s the clinician’s job to fight for the patient; it’s my job to create the structure so they can continue that fight,” he said. “You must always be forward thinking and not just budget ‘what’s good for now.’ You always have to be thinking five years down the road to be able to provide good patient care.” Regional One’s Wagers agreed. “At the end of the day, it’s all about the patient and doing what’s right for them,” he said. “We want to make decisions to be here today and tomorrow for patients. It’s important to be an enabler for the patient and create sustainability.”  All five CFOs said their organizations have formal submission processes for planning budgets, but they agree that one-on-one direct contact with physicians and medical staff is critical to understanding their processes and procedures. “In addition to formal budget planning, we get real-time feedback when we do rounds and walk the corridors and hallways,” Wagers said. “Physicians need what they need to perform their job in the operating room. It’s imperative to enable them to be successful in saving lives.” Patterson said he encourages physicians to become involved in making budget decisions and finding alternate solutions to problems. “My goal is to achieve the clinic’s

Title, organizations – Market Chief Financial Officer, Saint Francis Healthcare. Birthplace – Houma, Louisiana. Education – Bachelors of Accountancy from Loyola University, New Orleans; Masters in Business Administration Experience – In November 2017, Tina assumed the role of Market Chief Financial Officer for Saint Francis Healthcare. Prior to that, she had joined Saint Francis Hospital-Bartlett as CFO in 2010. Previous experience includes serving as Assistant Chief Financial Officer at Sierra Medical Center in El Paso, Texas. She also has worked in financial leadership roles at hospitals in Indiana and Louisiana.    

Title, organizations– Rick Wagers, Senior Ex Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, Re One Health. Birthplace – Indianapolis, Indiana.  

Education – BS with a major in accounting a State University; MBA, with a concentration Finance at Middle Tennessee University.

Experience – Wagers has been involved in h finance a total 44 years. He began his caree as Assistant Controller for 4 years at Ball Mem Hospital in Muncie, Indiana, before joining V University Medical Center, where he worked including serving as CFO during the last 10. the past 8 years he has been CFO at Regiona Health.   

Medical Staff Input

Tina Kovacs

Rick Wagers

objectives with limited funds,” said the Semmes Murphey CFO. “I try to teach others to become problem solvers. It’s the CFO’s job to say no, but it’s also my job to encourage others to think about the problem and solution another way.” According to Kovacs, Saint Francis establishes a five-year business plan before the budgeting process begins. The plan includes a list of what items the hospital needs, such as hospital equipment and service programs. The hospital employs hospital liaisons who directly interact with physicians to find out their needs. They relay those needs to the hospital system. “It’s the liaison’s job to find out what the physicians need, whether it’s new equipment or new procedural tools,” Kovacs said. “It’s all funneled to the CFO to build a business plan. After the plan is created, a budget is built.” Additionally, Saint Francis has hospital committees that give feedback on budget requests. Kovacs said they consist of a mix of physicians and hospital staff. Individuals discuss whether the requested budget items are needed for the hospital system. BMG’s Young said that even if a CFO has to say no to a “wish list” budgeting item, it’s important for him or her to respond directly to the physician or department leader. This helps establish reliable relationships. “Ultimately, there isn’t a drawer full of money,” she said. “You must respond to clinicians and medical staff even when you have to say no. You have to explain why certain priorities are the way they are.” St. Jude’s Keel said the hospital has a different budgeting scenario due to its six-year strategic plan for operational growth and research acceleration, which has support from the hospital CEO. memphismedicalnews


July 2018 MMN  

Memphis Medical News July 2018

July 2018 MMN  

Memphis Medical News July 2018