CFOs with data systems and analytics are in higher demand

The ability to understand technology systems and data analytics are rated as more preferable skills for healthcare chief financial officer candidates than their expertise in finance and reimbursement, a new Black Book survey of executive recruiters shows.

Asked to rank in order the skills most desired for healthcare chief financial officer candidates, the recruiters listed “Technology & Data/Systems Management” as No. 1, followed by “Advanced Analytics” and “Finance & Reimbursement.”

Technology and data/systems management chops also topped the list of most-valued skills for prospective healthcare CEOs, chief nursing/clinical officers, and chief medical officer.

These results shouldn’t be surprising: Healthcare’s migration toward electronic health records and systems interoperability makes knowledge of networking and computer technology invaluable to provider organizations. And the ability to collect and analyze data offers opportunities to improve patient care and organizational efficiency.

"The power of data and analytics is profoundly changing the healthcare business and clinical landscape, and once again hospitals need more top-management tech muscle," Doug Brown, managing partner of Black Book, said in a press release. "Without added C-suite horsepower at this crossroads of value-based payment reform, population health and accountable care opportunities, stoking the forces of advanced technologies and data analytics will be very difficult for most hospitals."

Indeed, the instability and uncertainty introduced into the healthcare revenue cycle by performance requirements under the Accountable Care Act, the trend toward higher-deductible insurance plans, and the expected problems associated with ICD-10 puts more pressure than ever on CFOs to manage costs and maximize revenue.

Analytics provides a powerful tool both for optimizing revenue cycle processes and for delivering value-based care to patients. But that analytics would be impossible without the networking technology to generate, capture, store and share medical, financial and operational information.

"Data has so much to do with successful healthcare delivery from the top down," said Doug Brown.

For revenue cycle professionals, analytics enables greater transparency into process flows and potential bottlenecks. As RelayHealth vice president of business strategy and analysts Jason Williams recently wrote, “Providers who use analytics in the revenue cycle gain a holistic view of data that are typically siloed in separate departments such as patient access, billing and collections. This allows them to see previously undetected flaws in their processes and identify ways to improve revenue cycle operations.”

Analytics also provides a granular view of data. Providers can “use predictive modeling to proactively identify individual claims that may need special focus based on time thresholds, dollar amounts and payer profiles,” Williams wrote.

As healthcare providers continue to adapt to new revenue and care models, the demand for revenue cycle leaders who have data/systems and analytics expertise will only increase.

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