HFM - From the Chair - April 2019

Imagining Tomorrow Involves Risk

“You must lose a fly to catch a trout.” –George Herbert


Kevin F. Brennan



As someone who loves fishing, I am well acquainted with the truth behind that quote. It also resonates for me as a healthcare finance professional.

Whenever I have the opportunity to share my “Imagine Tomorrow” theme with HFMA colleagues and others, I acknowledge that imagining a better tomorrow certainly involves some risks and even a willingness to fail. Taking on risk, however, can be the first step toward realizing our vision for what the future could be.

The same holds true for us as healthcare finance leaders managing enterprise risk for our organizations. If we want to reduce costs, provide better health outcomes, and improve patient satisfaction, we must simultaneously seize opportunities and manage risks. It’s a tall order, and this issue of hfm provides a look into how some of our colleagues are approaching that challenge.

My Geisinger teams and I did our fair share of managing risk during the 23 years I served as the health system’s CFO. One particularly memorable example was initiating sponsorship of a Medicare Advantage HMO plan in the 90s. We leveraged our experience with commercial lines but accelerated our innovations in management of chronic conditions. Regulatory risks remained. Not everything worked as planned, but we had lots of success and outperformed our Medicare fee-forservice results.

If you’re looking for cutting-edge information and inspiration to address risk-management challenges, you’ll want to attend HFMA’s Annual Conference June 23-26 in Orlando. This year’s program includes a variety of educational sessions designed to provide attendees with information and tools to successfully assess and manage risk. Examples include a three-hour workshop on building a blueprint to support risk-based contracts and breakout sessions on topics such as driving optimal performance in a risk-based world, ensuring cybersecurity, and becoming risk-ready with ACOs. There’s also a case study on “Positioning Physician Leaders to Promote Patient Safety and Mitigate Risk.”

For more information on these programs and others addressing the issue of enterprise risk, please visit the Annual Conference 2019 website at annual.hfma.org. This year’s event has been designed to inspire attendees to boldly act by providing the tools needed to lead change and deliver on the promise of transformation. I hope to see you there.

Meanwhile, keep imagining that better tomorrow. Just like fishing, the rewards far outweigh the inherent risks.

HFM - From the Chair - March 2019

The Value of Financial Analytics


Kevin F. Brennan



When it comes to imagining a better tomorrow in our industry, financial analytics are essential. They can move us from where we are to where we need to be.

Analytics don’t simply help us better understand current and past performance. They also can predict future performance. In short, financial analytics can lead us toward smarter decisions.

Over the course of my career as a health system CFO—including my time at Geisinger in Danville, Pa.—my teams and I regularly turned to the insights provided by data analysis to address challenges and improve performance. One such situation was in conducting sophisticated balance sheet analytics, incorporating historic and forecasted information, while testing the impacts of a variety of scenarios and stress tests. This effort helped Geisinger preserve balance sheet strengths by minimizing risks and investing appropriately. It also helped maintain a AA bond rating for more than 20 years.

HFMA understands the value of analytics for today’s healthcare finance professional. In response, the Association launched the Financial Analytics Leadership Council this past summer in partnership with Kaufman Hall. Composed of the heads of decision support, chief analytics officers, and operational finance executives, the Council meets at least quarterly to address its charge: to drive change in the healthcare industry’s approach to financial decision support. To learn more about the Council, check out the article on page 24 of this issue of hfm.

As the Council works to lead change in this area, HFMA also will provide educational programs and resources for finance professionals looking to harness and use data today. The 2019 Revenue Cycle Conference occurring this month will tackle the topic. Speakers will address how to leverage predictive analytics to anticipate issues negatively impacting the revenue cycle and how to tap into the power of data to make community health efforts more effective.

Then, in June, at the 2019 HFMA Annual Conference in Orlando, attendees will have the opportunity to spend an entire day in a cohort focused on business intelligence, data management, and return on analytics. Stand-alone sessions also will address similar topics.

HFMA also offers on-demand webinars for healthcare finance professionals looking to up their data analytics game without leaving the office. Check out current offerings, including “How Analytics Is Transforming Healthcare Financial Management,” at www.hfma.org.

There’s no doubt that analytics are increasingly important in managing financial performance today. They’re also key to imagining how things could be better tomorrow. HFMA can help you meet the challenge on both fronts.


HFMA National Chair Encourages Healthcare Finance Professionals To ‘Imagine Tomorrow’

Kevin F. Brennan

Kevin F. Brennan



Yesterday is forgotten. Today is almost gone. We must look forward to building a better tomorrow.

With so many challenges facing us in the healthcare industry, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. It is important, however, to remember that we are more than capable of addressing these challenges,achieving our goals, and realizing the full potential of the Triple Aim. Although we have the necessary knowledge and skills, it is simply not enough. Effective execution of our vision requires confidence, optimism, and a belief that we can do so much more by working together. Most important, we need to tap into our imaginations.

That is why I have selected Imagine Tomorrow for my theme as HFMA’s 2018-19 National Chair. Over the next year, I hope to encourage healthcare finance professionals and our industry partners to imagine a tomorrow where everyone has access to care when they need it; where care is consistently delivered safely, reliably, and following best practices; and where every man, woman, and child can afford and receive the care they need.

My belief in the power of imagination has deep roots, as I have been privileged to witness its impact both personally and professionally. Chances are good you have experienced it as well. Imagination, for example, led previous generations to board ships to America in pursuit of their dream for a better tomorrow. They had a vision, took risks, and worked tirelessly to overcome every hurdle. Likewise, we have all been encouraged by the success of organizations where bold leadership, teamwork, and inspiring visions have produced boundless imagination and innovation. Thanks to such efforts, we have witnessed administrative, clinical, and scientific advances that have benefited us both as individuals and as a society.

Even with all these advances, however, there is much to be done. That is why we must ask ourselves how we and the teams with whom we work can build a better tomorrow. I believe the answer to that question lies in our ability–and our willingness–to use our imagination and innovation to renew ourselves, inspire our teams, improve our organizations, and leave our communities and the world a much better place.

I look forward to exploring these issues with you in the coming months—both in person and here in hfm. In the meantime, I hope you, too, will commit to making a difference by accepting the challenge to Imagine Tomorrow.