Aug 20, 2019
Healthcare CFOs have a problem: while they have seen an influx in the amount of data at their fingertips, they don’t always trust this data. As a result, data must be verified, cleaned up, then compiled into useful analytics, a process that takes time and significant resources.
This challenge comes at a time when healthcare CFOs around the world are being asked to leverage analytics data to help inform strategy and identify new opportunities to generate revenue. Healthcare CFOs are also collaborating with others in the organization to find new ways to reduce costs and improve efficiency, while ultimately delivering a better experience for patients and caregivers. These goals are near impossible to achieve without trustworthy data to use as a foundation for decision making.
This post will look at some of the reasons why CFOs struggle with data accuracy and provide insights into how digital innovation in healthcare can lead to more reliable, actionable data.
So why aren’t healthcare CFOs able to trust their data? While healthcare is hardly the only industry that struggles with data accuracy, it is especially challenged in several different ways, including:
- A reliance on heavily modified legacy systems instead of one central finance solution. While healthcare regulations vary from country to country, they are usually much more stringent than they are for other industries. The need to safeguard patient data has made many healthcare facilities hesitant to transition to new systems, preferring to stick with their existing on-premise solutions, which they perceive as more secure (though that is not necessarily the case).
These older systems are often patched together and use outdated technology, resulting in unreliable data. Moreover, pulling data from these older systems is often time-consuming, which is why many key reports are pulled on a quarterly process. In some cases, it takes so long to pull the data that by the time it has been cleaned up, the data is essentially obsolete (a huge liability at a time when CFOs need to be more agile).
- A rise in mergers and acquisitions(M&As). Healthcare has seen an increase in M&As over the past few years, up 14.4% in 2018 (on top of another increase in 2017). In a Definitive Healthcare survey, industry consolidation was considered by healthcare leaders to be the biggest trend for 2019. As a result, organizations that have undergone one or more M&A in recent years tend to use different technology solutions. This means that data must either be collected from these various sources and standardized or integrations built to bridge these disparate systems. These additional layers of complexity make it more likely for mistakes to happen and data to be rendered inaccurate.
- Existing systems can be cumbersome and not user-friendly, resulting in them not being used properly and in some cases, not at all. Healthcare professionals are especially pressed for time and have wildly different levels of digital literacy, so a system that isn’t intuitive or is needlessly complex will result in entry errors or potentially being left out of the system.
- Entrenched silos limit the flow of information. Silos are common in enterprises, but they are especially pronounced in healthcare. Deeply entrenched silos often result in some data being either withheld or edited before being passed along to the finance department. This lack of collaboration between departments means CFOs often question all data.
Is Reliable Data Enough?
Simply having accurate data may not be enough to allow healthcare CFOs to pivot to their new, more strategic role. The flood of new data that immediately follows a healthcare digital transformation, for example, can leave CFOs overwhelmed an unsure how to leverage their analytics effectively.
Speed is also important. Even if data is accurate, if it takes IT or another internal team days or even weeks to assemble it, then it may be so old that it is hardly useful. Today’s more strategy-driven healthcare CFOs need easily accessible, live data in order to compete.
In the end, healthcare CFOs need accurate data that is delivered in real-time.
Overcoming Data Distrust
Digital innovation in healthcare has allowed organizations to consolidate their cobbled-together systems into a unified cloud-based platform. When there is a single source of truth throughout the enterprise, data becomes more reliable and better insights drawn from it. Moreover, by combining toolsets from across departments, such as HR and Finance, CFOs can effectively bridge the gap between different parts of the organization, helping to break down silos and improve efficiency. When Centerstone of America combined three of their systems into one HR and Finance platform, they were able to reduce their month-end close process by 1-2 days.
Another key advantage of digital innovation in healthcare is that the solution is available anywhere, meaning care providers, HR, IT, and everyone else can use their preferred devices at a time that is convenient for them. This leads to a more engaged user base that is more likely to report key data points (like how many hours worked) more accurately.
By using a unified cloud-based platform, healthcare CFOs gain access to live dashboards, which can be customized to align with their goals. Having this data so readily accessible allows them to be more strategic, as well react more quickly to industry changes. By customizing reports and following a few finance data best practices, CFOs can hone in on the metrics that matter the most, instead of being overwhelmed by data.
In the end, however, digital innovation in healthcare allows CFOs to partner with others in their organization in order to deliver better outcomes for patients.
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