A strong business case for change
Accenture’s research suggests a clear and compelling business case for the strategic healthcare CFO. Finance executives who work for the highest-growth payers and providers—those organizations whose revenues last year exceeded expectations—are the most likely to be embracing non-traditional, value-adding responsibilities.
This is a major shift in the role, and its impact within the organization. These new CFO responsibilities include engaging more around issues related to population health and clinical outcomes, business model development, and the adoption of digital technology across the business. Looking across the entirety of the survey results, this shift in the role of the CFO is playing out most evidently across three dimensions: analytics, automation and talent.
Healthcare CFOs believe their role in the business is becoming more strategic—especially those in high-growth enterprises.
Analytics extracts value from financial data
By combining organizational performance data with an understanding of changing trends in the wider health ecosystem, CFOs can identify areas where existing revenue streams can be optimized and where new revenue streams can be created.
A look at where CFOs are currently focusing their time indicates a clear trend toward using data and analytics to address affordability, lay the groundwork for pricing transparency and boost revenues. This trend is strongest among CFOs in high-growth healthcare organizations.
Healthcare finance organizations are achieving important outcomes by using analytics to process financial data. The most common include identifying future risks and opportunities, reducing costs and improving margins, and increasing connectivity with other parts of the business.
Healthcare finance organizations get results from using analytics in processing financial data.
Automation frees people for more value-added tasks
Automation and other digital technologies offer a powerful solution for finance teams to focus more on non-core value-adding tasks. Healthcare CFOs see the potential. Seventy-seven percent agree that tools like robotic process automation (RPA) performing routine and process-oriented tasks give finance the flexibility to focus on providing insight to the rest of the organization.
Although the adoption rates of automation in healthcare are, in general terms, relatively sluggish, high-growth health enterprises have again made the most progress. A full 30 percent of this group has scaled the use of RPA compared with 18 percent of other respondents.
Talent turns away from traditional skills
If healthcare CFOs are to succeed as strategic growth enablers, they need more than technology and access to data. They need to upgrade their talent and foster a culture that supports the new role of finance. Attracting and retaining talent with digital, analytical and non-traditional skills is critical here. Accordingly, 72 percent of healthcare CFOs believe that finance skills will continue to move away from core finance to advanced digital, statistics, operational and collaborative talent.
High-growth finance organizations in healthcare are particularly interested in non-traditional talent. Almost half (46 percent) of this group say advanced data visualization skills will be critical among finance teams of the future, compared with 24 percent of other respondents.
Creating the new healthcare finance
As they embrace an evolving strategic role, one of the key priorities for healthcare CFOs must be to collaborate with other functions and create a more open environment. This way, finance will be in an ideal position to accomplish its wider remit as a strategic value creator. In a fast-evolving healthcare environment, this may ultimately be non-negotiable to enabling sustained growth.