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Leveraging Peer Recommendations and HFMA Membership Benefits [PODCAST]

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The Hospital Finance Podcast

In this episode, we’re pleased to welcome Todd Nelson, Director of Partner Relationships and Chief Partnership Executive at HFMA, to discuss with us leveraging peer recommendations and HFMA membership benefits.

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Highlights of this episode include:

  • Types of partnerships HFMA creates with academic organizations and associations
  • HFMA Peer Review Program
  • Benefits of being an HFMA member
  • How HFMA is evolving and supporting the healthcare finance industry

Kelly Wisness: Hi, this is Kelly Wisness. Welcome back to the award-winning Hospital Finance Podcast. We’re pleased to welcome Todd Nelson, Director of Partner Relationships and Chief Partnership Executive at the Healthcare Financial Management Association, otherwise known as HFMA. Todd is responsible for developing and overseeing HFMA’s partnership strategy with academic institutions, associations, and industry partners. Todd develops collaborative relationships across all sectors of the industry for both HFMA members and nonmembers. Todd currently serves on the Board and as Treasurer for the Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Management Education, National Advisory Board member for the Marion K. Shaughnessy Nurse Leadership Academy, Adjunct Faculty at Boise State University and Carnegie Mellon University, and lecturer at the University of Iowa and Case Western Reserve University. Prior to joining HFMA, Todd was the Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of a rural Midwest hospital for over 15 years focused on finance and operational areas. He also served in volunteer roles for HFMA on the Senior Financial Executive National Advisory Committee, Chapter President, and Regional Executive, as well as numerous local community organization board positions. Todd received his undergraduate degree in Business Administration as well as his MBA from the University of Iowa. In this episode, Todd will share with us leveraging peer recommendations and HFMA membership benefits. Thank you for joining us today, Todd.

Todd Nelson: It’s great to be here, Kelly. I’m glad my mom finished that bio and sent it off for the introduction. It sounded pretty good.

Kelly: It’s a great introduction. Yes. You’ve quite the background, but let’s go ahead and jump in today, shall we? So, Todd, what is your role with HFMA and background in the industry?

Todd: Thanks, Kelly. Again, it’s really good to be here today. My role for HFMA right now is I work on partnerships with academic organizations, other healthcare associations, and then what we call industry institutions. And so I really look at working and leveraging the healthcare finance knowledge and space that the association has and trying to get that out and essentially raise the business acumen for the industry. My background prior to coming to HFMA was in Healthcare Finance and Operations in Medical Center in the Midwest. And so I bring the CFO lens to the things that we do here.

And I really love my work and love being part of HFMA.

Kelly: Great. Yeah. Sounds like you bring a lot to the table there. Can you give some examples of the types of partnerships HFMA creates with academic organizations and associations?

Todd: Yeah. Absolutely. So, with academic organizations, clearly, HFMA as an association has student memberships and faculty memberships. But the types of relationships that we create beyond that is leveraging the vast amount of HFMA content, meaning research reports, certifications, webinars, online courses, and helping to embed those into various university programs across the nation. The other way that we work with universities is we serve as adjunct faculty. We teach healthcare finance courses for universities when they’re looking for that as healthcare finance experts. We also have created a partnership specifically with Boise State University to create a Master in Population and Health Systems Management degree. So, we’ve jointly created a Master’s degree program.

That’s probably our most involved relationship although we have several other academic relationships with universities from across the country that we’re really frankly proud of because our goal is to try to, for those that are working already in the industry, kind of raise their level of financial competence and understanding of what’s happening in the industry, but also for that next generation of group of folks trying to decide what their career path is, helping prepare them to succeed, those that are ready to retire or lead leave the industry and we prepare them understanding that healthcare finance part. And so that’s the academic side of things or the university side of things. From the association side of things, we again, as our name says, we’re the Healthcare Finance Management Association. So, we’re really seen as the technical finance experts for the industry. So, when we work with other associations, sometimes we are the convener of a group of associations that maybe are on the different side of an issue. So we try to convene them and coalesce them around a more traditional patient-centered approach which is a little unique for a healthcare finance organization.

So, for instance, we may bring an association of nurse executives, an association of physician executives, and an association of health plan executives together to talk about how do we work together on social determinants or health or health equity as one example of how we work with other associations. Another area that we’ve spent a lot of time on pre-pandemic and then certainly throughout is really the workforce shortage.

So we know the shortage with the workforce certainly not only has clinical impacts, it has financial impacts on people and organizations. And so we’re part of a coalition of actually nurse associations as the finance lead in that that’s thinking through different creative ways to deal with the workforce shortage, in this case, specifically, the nurse workforce shortage. But it certainly applies to other areas as well. So, it’s a long-winded answer to a couple of the ways that we work with academic organizations and association.

Kelly: No, that’s great. That’s very interesting. Thank you. And for those that may not be familiar, what is the HFMA Peer Review Program, and how does an organization earn peer review status?

Todd: Sure. Well, I’m really excited about the Peer Review Program. It’s been around for over a decade, and the program itself is driven by member feedback. So HFMA members and users of a product will look at a product and service that serves the healthcare finance industry and provide their feedback or rating of that product. And what’s important about that is it really helps from a finance executive or a finance management person have the due diligence done by their colleagues. So, in many cases, when folks are looking for a new product or service, they may pick up the phone and call a friend and say, “I’m thinking about getting this new service. Do you know somebody in the industry that does this?” And so you get that, in essence, that peer recommendation.

Well, what the HFMA Peer Review Program does is we go out and we survey your peers on a specific product or service to receive their feedback to determine if their rating is high enough to attain that peer review designation. In addition to the peer review member feedback that we get, we also do a financial due diligence and a legal due diligence on the organization that has applied for peer review designation. And I can tell you that not every organization that would like to be peer-reviewed is able to attain the peer review designation. So, it’s a competitive process and one that is thorough. And for organizations that have gone through it, they know it’s not just a check the box, you’ll find out tomorrow on an online application type of thing. It is a process that takes several weeks to go through. And yet we think that the thorough vetting that’s done really adds credibility to those organizations that have attained peer review status.

Kelly: Yeah, it is quite extensive. I can attest to that as someone who has been participating in that since I’ve joined the organization. You all have done a great job creating a very thorough process indeed.

Todd: Thank you.

Kelly: What are some of the benefits of being an HFMA member?

Todd: So HFMA as an organization or as an association is a little bit unique in that we are an education association. So, unlike many other associations whose one of their major functions is lobbying, HFMA doesn’t lobby, but we do provide technical, expert advice to CMS, the IRS, the OIG, to Congress, and others that are part of the rulemaking bodies. So, one of the things that your membership does in HFMA is assures you that healthcare finance experts have a voice in the shaping of rules and regulations. We actually interpret them and provide the unintended consequences of that legislation back to those that are starting to create those rules as one of the main functions. We have a DC office that does that. And what’s nice about that format or perspective is that we are asked by those agencies to provide that insight. So, we typically have the ability to do that a little earlier in the process and help shape it. We certainly provide comment letters after the process, but we also shape it from the beginning, which makes a big difference.

And I feel like it’s a more collaborative and collegial approach than when you’re in a lobbying position where you have to go and ask for an audience. We’re actually in a great position because we’re asked to be the audience. So that’s, I mean, one of the benefits that not a lot of people know that HFMA provides is we’re in the background helping to shape policy that’s happening out there. A main benefit of us as an education association is we put on a tremendous amount of webinar content that is out there on hot topics. We do workshops. We certainly have several live events that are education-related. We’ve got online courses and certifications. And many of these things are included with the membership. So, there’s not an extra fee beyond the membership fee. So many of those things are included, not all of them, but many. The other great part about HFMA from a membership benefit perspective is the networking benefits.

So, when you join HFMA as a member, we’re now over 90,000 members. And so you’re a community of other healthcare finance professionals where you can reach out to folks and ask them the questions that you have and get answers from your colleagues as well as the local and regional chapters have events and networking as well. So, if you’re not someone that is comfortable talking to 90,000 people, you can go to a local event probably pretty darn close to where you are from an in-person perspective and be around a group of 100 to 200 professionals that are very similar with needs and insights that you have. There are certainly larger regional events that are in the thousand range, but the networking, I think, is a key component of it as well. And then last but not least, we certainly have a tremendous amount of written insights, newsletters, daily insight, daily mail that comes out. We do research reports. We create calculators and tools for organizations to use.

And so there’s a lot of different areas of healthcare finance that we touch and that we provide guidance and insight on for our members. As someone that’s been an HFMA member prior to being an HFMA staff person, I can tell you when I joined in the early 90s, it was one of the best things that I did for my career was getting to network and meet other folks that had been in the industry that could provide guidance. And then going through the chapter roles as I did, and even the regional roles, it also helped with my leadership development. So, taking on leadership roles at the local and the national level, it provided insights into nonprofit board management and the opportunity to lead in a larger footprint than just the organization I was with. So obviously I’m just a little bit passionate about HFMA and being a member.

Kelly: No. Those are all fantastic benefits. Thank you. Yeah. I love that you’re passionate about it. That’s awesome. And how is HFMA evolving and supporting the healthcare finance industry?

Todd: That’s a great question. We have continued to, much like everyone has, thought about different content ways to deliver information in healthcare finance, whether that is remote learning or hybrid learning, which we did before everybody had to move to remote and hybrid because of the pandemic. But we’ve certainly expanded those offerings. We’ve thought through local and regional and national education delivery and how we can coordinate those on the hot topics for our members throughout the U.S. And more recently, we have developed programs and information on a global basis. So, we have started working more closely with the international market as the things across the globe in healthcare finance, although the systems may be a little bit different, we still get asked quite frequently about how the US system works. And as other countries are evolving and redesigning their healthcare system, and specifically their finance system, they’re interested in how HFMA can help support that activity. And so we look at, we listen to our members, what the topics of interest are of most interest to them through routine surveys of them. And then we try to tackle those topics of interest with timely reporting, but also workshops so that people can not just hear about what the topic is, but we can help them work through and solve some of those problems of the day.

Kelly: That’s awesome. Well, thank you so much for joining us today, Todd, and educating us on all things HFMA.

Todd: It’s been my pleasure. I mean, I think HFMA is certainly it’s a great organization. I thought it was before I became staff at HFMA, as I mentioned before. And it’s fun to be part of the healthcare industry, to watch it evolve over time, and really have the ability to make a contribution and an impact.

Kelly: Certainly. Todd, if someone wants to get in touch with you, how best can they do that?

Todd: The best way to reach me is via email, which is Or if you’re not familiar with HFMA and you just kind of want to check it out and see what’s this association about, head over to and just kind of surf through it and see what you find out there. And if you have questions, always happy to answer.

Kelly: That’s fantastic. Thanks again for joining us, 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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