Jerry Arndt, senior vice president, business services, at Gundersen Lutheran in La Crosse, WI, concurs that process improvement must be thought through before an IT implementation begins.
"In my opinion, I think it is important to get the process optimized before you automate it," Arndt, says. "Institutionalizing chaos or automating chaos is not progress. Optimizing and then wrapping your system around it is a much more efficient way to operate."
One change several CFOs say they're making to their organization's processes is to move much of the collections work from the back end to the front end of the business office. There is a trend in staff resources being reallocated to the front end, as well.
"The skills translate very, very well," says Mary Ann Freas, senior vice president and CFO at Southwest General Health Center based in Middleburg, OH. "The added skill that is needed is that ability to handle the customer service piece of it, and they really understand and seem to get it that it's the best thing for the patient not to come in and be surprised by a large bill… Employees really have rallied around helping patients access additional health coverage, either through the state or our own charity programs, so it's really turned out well."