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Stand-Alone Hospitals Wrestle With Financial Challenges

Rene Letourneau, for HealthLeaders Media, June 24, 2013

Make-or-break decisions about the future face financial executives from independent hospitals—insight from the HFMA ANI conference.

Last week at the Healthcare Financial Management Association's ANI conference in Orlando, I listened to a panel of executives from stand-alone hospitals talk about the financial challenges they face while trying to remain independent in an environment that is—and has been for years—consolidating at a rapid rate. More than most healthcare leaders, financial executives at stand-alone organizations face make-or-break decisions in the next few years.

"In some ways, our challenges aren't that different from any other health system, but as a small, stand-alone hospital, we have to execute really well if we want to stay where we are. … We have to be slightly quicker and be as good or better on everything from a quality standpoint," said Michael Allen, CFO and treasurer at Winona (MN) Health.

"From an operations point of view, the biggest challenge is probably around physician recruiting and retention. It's harder to attract folks who want to come to a small facility in a small community, and our physicians are our sales force," he added.

Harold Dupper, vice president, finance, at Platte Valley Medical Center in Brighton, CO, agreed that physician recruitment and development top the list of challenges.

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