Blog, The Hospital Finance Podcast®

The Intersection of Finance and Healthcare Technology in Healthcare [PODCAST]

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The Hospital Finance Podcast

In this episode, we’re pleased to welcome Kevin Samuelson, CEO at Infor, to speak to the intersection of finance and healthcare technology and how the role of the CFO has evolved. 

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Highlights of this episode include:

  • Current challenges hampering the healthcare industry?
  • Costs that most impact overall patient care
  • Who stands to lose the most?
  • How the role of the CFO has shifted
  • Financial benefits of leveraging ERP & supply chain management technologies

Kelly Wisness: Hi, this is Kelly Wisness. Welcome back to the award-winning Hospital Finance Podcast. We’re pleased to welcome Kevin Samuelson, CEO at Infor, an enterprise software company with dedicated expertise in the healthcare vertical. Kevin brings more than two decades of experience in tech, finance, operations, and M&A, and can speak broadly to the health tech space, as well as how it pertains to hospitals now and in the future. Kevin is a different breed of CEO. When you ask him what keeps him up at night, he ponders the heavy responsibility of having 18,000 people’s livelihoods and well-being in his hands. He’s a teacher turned CFO, turned CEO running a $3 billion technology business and has his finger on the pulse of the healthcare space. In this discussion, Kevin will speak to the intersection of finance and healthcare technology and how the role of the CFO has evolved. Thank you for joining us today, Kevin.

Kevin Samuelson: Thanks for having me, Kelly. I’m super excited to be here.

Kelly: Great, well, let’s jump in, shall we? From your perspective, what are the current challenges hampering the healthcare industry?

Kevin: Well, that’s a very, very long list, candidly. I can’t imagine a more tumultuous time in healthcare than what we’ve had over the last handful of years. I think at the top of the list, I think for most hospitals that we work with, which is about 70% of hospitals with more than 100 beds, the number one thing right now is probably the workforce, both in terms of just how challenging it is to find and keep people, but then as a result of that, the extraordinary cost that comes with overtime and the management of a quickly changing workforce. And so that tends to be number one, regardless of where you are, whether you’re on the clinical side or the CFO or the head of HR, that’s probably top of the list. But then you combine that with some of the other challenges, such as just a huge falloff in some of the procedures that have the highest margins, the number of surgeries, many of the challenges around supply chain that have occurred over the last few years. And put all that together, it’s a pretty tough time just given how much demand there is and how many challenges there is all around the P&L and people and processes. So, it’s a pretty extraordinary time and I think one that will usher a ton of change with it.

Kelly: Definitely…I agree with that. And what are the costs, seen and unseen, that most impact hospitals and overall patient care?

Kevin: Well, I think the obvious ones are kind of what were discussed, just the notion of workforce is probably at the top of the list, and I think that’s somewhat obvious. I think what’s unseen there are a number of things that are big opportunities. One is just healthcare is very challenging just for scheduling, as an example, and making sure the right people with the right qualifications are at the right place at the right time. And that’s sort of not as well probably understood in many hospitals and a huge opportunity for improvement. There are lots of ways to bring clinical data with operational data to help drive things like supply chain and workforce. So that’s another big area of focus that’s probably not as well-seen or understood. And then just broadly speaking, understanding the intersections of clinical data and operating data to drive not just more efficiency in costs but also better patient outcomes. And that’s probably another area that’s probably discussed a bit, but not well-understood or impacted yet, at least.

Kelly: Definitely, yes. Thank you. And if these costs are not addressed, how will they affect hospitals and healthcare organizations? And who stands to lose the most?

Kevin: Well, I mean, I think the reason, at least in my mind, the workforce one is at the top of the list is it’s probably the most impactful economically. But frankly, nobody wins, in that you tend to have a workforce that’s dissatisfied, doesn’t feel like they have much control, or are overworked. You tend to have worse patient outcomes as a result. And then obviously, your bottom line is materially affected as a result. So that probably has the broadest base impacts. And if you can fix a single thing that would have the greatest positive set of outcomes, that’s probably where I think most hospitals are focusing. But supply chain as well. I mean, again, I think as a function of where healthcare has been over the last few decades, hospitals haven’t run supply chains as efficiently as many other industries. But having been through what folks have been through, there’s a lot more opportunity there than I think is well-understood. So that would be number two on my list of probably high-level understood, but there’s a lot underneath the surface that generates opportunity that’s not as well-understood across hospitals.

Kelly: Completely agree with that. And how has the role of the CFO shifted in the past few years? What do you see as the future role that CFOs can play in helping healthcare organizations going forward?

Kevin: Well, I’m a recovering CFO, so this is an area that I probably have the most perspective on. And I think the job has changed radically. And probably, again, healthcare is on the edge of the spectrum where it’s changed the most. Because I think historically, the traditional route to CFO and sort of capabilities and background have been extremely focused on finance and accounting and, to a limited degree, planning. But if you step through just the high-level issues that we discussed, you quickly come to the conclusion that understanding elements like workforce and margin and supply chain require a much deeper operational understanding of the business and the levers that sit underneath the surface and how they have impact on the bottom line and the overall health of the hospital. And so I think that’s required CFOs to really move from purely accounting and finance and economics-driven to equally operational and needing to be able to understand at a much more detailed level the inner workings of the business and operate with clinicians and folks in many different areas. And so the breadth of the job, I think, is different, and just the level of understanding is continuing to increase. And so it’s a very, very tough job at hospitals right now. In fact, it’s arguably one of the tougher jobs at the moment.

Kelly: Yes, I agree, it’s definitely evolved over the years. What would be the financial benefits of hospitals and healthcare organizations leveraging ERP and supply chain management technologies?

Kevin: Yeah, I think the good news is, as much as things have changed for hospitals, there’s also been a massive amount of innovation that’s occurred that probably also hasn’t been as well-tapped as it could be. And so you hear the term ERP, and traditionally, that’s included really three primary solutions. Those are the financials that hospitals use, everything from general ledger to planning and budgeting. It’s the human capital management element, so understanding how employees can manage vacation and time off and hierarchy and how they hire. And then lastly, it’s supply chain and understanding where everything that’s within a hospital, how inventory is standing up, how it’s being replenished, and the like. And I think in those areas, there’s been a lot of innovation. Now, at Infor, we’ve taken a little bit of a different approach in that we’ve said we will absolutely offer those three applications. But as we looked at the challenges healthcare has and will face, we combine that with a couple of other things. One is very detailed and capable clinical integration, because within any hospital system, there’s just such deep interplay between what happens in clinical software and what happens in operational software. And typically, they’ve been viewed as two totally separate systems. But obviously, looking at financials or inventory or how our doctors and nurses are functioning, that’s very deeply tied to the actual patients in the hospital and what they’re going through. And so that allows much more efficiency. And we’ve also then added an area that’s not typically included in an ERP suite, which is that scheduling and time and attendance. Because as we mentioned, that’s just so integral to hospitals working well, both with respect to managing costs and generating patient outcomes.

And so when you put all that combination of systems together and you really have a system that can understand what’s happening with patients and have that flow through to how it’s impacting clinicians as well as HR and finance, that’s where you can accomplish really a great thing. So, here’s one example. I could give you many. But traditionally, you would schedule nurses on a floor based on the number of patients or maybe based on one or, at best, two different situations that the patients are dealing with. But we’ve taken that multiple levels deeper and saying, you may have three patients with diabetes, but one has two other major issues. In addition to diabetes, they’re 90 years old and they’ve got dementia, and that patient will require a lot more time and attention than would a diabetes patient that didn’t have any other sets of issues or diagnoses. And so what software is capable of doing now at that level of the tail is pretty impressive, and it’s something that hasn’t been available before. And the implications are massive for not just the bottom line but, again, just the overall satisfaction of working in a hospital. And so it’s extraordinary what’s occurred across all these different areas, which is why we’re seeing a huge number of hospitals move from older on-premise systems to the cloud to take advantage of all this incremental capability.

Kelly: Yes, agree. There’s a lot of people moving their systems to the cloud because of, obviously, many reasons, including security. Right?

Kevin: Mm-hmm. I mean, security is huge. What you can do with data, which is at the center of figuring all this out, when you can take the data from all these systems and put them in one place, that’s effectively a supercomputer. So, the insights are massive. Accessibility, anyone can access the systems anywhere. You can go on and on. But it’s definitely turned into a big, big game-changer in the entire medical industry.

Kelly: Completely agree. And how will the onboarding of these technologies impact overall patient care?

Kevin: Yeah, again, I think a huge push, certainly at Infor, around the notion that the majority of users are clinicians who, one, don’t have a lot of time for a bunch of training, but two, are on the go and, frankly, should be much more focused on helping patients. And so our perspective is that training should be like many other areas of consumer technology, that you don’t really need a lot of training. It’s fairly intuitive, and it should be focused on what are the fewest number of steps and interactions to get a great outcome. And so again, that requires a lot more integration into other systems, much easier form factors, like mobile, and a different perspective on instead of having different sets of applications, really those should bleed together into the processes and outcomes that folks on the frontlines deal with every day. And so again, the cloud’s offered this very different approach to actually giving technology, enabling on it, improving it in much, much simpler ways, which again, can be a huge game-changer for anyone in the clinical frontlines who wants to move away from all the administrative work and all the different systems. This makes their jobs much easier.

Kelly: It sounds like it. And thank you so much for all this great information, Kevin, and for joining us today.

Kevin: Yeah, of course. It’s wonderful to be here.

Kelly: And how can a listener get in touch with you, Kevin, and/or learn more about Infor?

Kevin: Well, would love for folks to reach out. We’re a pretty unique company in that, distinctive from other ERP companies, we’re only focused on a few industries, literally six, and those each have their own products. So, in healthcare, we’re laser-focused with an ERP product instead of people that spend all of their time in healthcare. So, it’s quite unique. And anyone that reaches out, they’re welcome to reach out to me directly. It’s just I-N-F-O-R. Reach out anytime. I would love to help.

Kelly: Great. And thank you again for sharing your knowledge and experience with us today. And thank you all for joining us for this episode of The Hospital Finance Podcast. Until next time…

[music] This concludes today’s episode of the Hospital Finance Podcast. For show notes and additional resources to help you protect and enhance revenue at your hospital, visit The Hospital Finance Podcast is a production of BESLER, SMART ABOUT REVENUE, TENACIOUS ABOUT RESULTS.


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