The Healthcare Financial Management Association, like any other trade organization adapting to a changing industry, has evolved dramatically in the past dozen years. In fact, the HFMA's focus for this year is "Community: Chapters of Change."
Throughout the years the organization has focused on diversifying services and membership while continuing to value the individual.
Celebrating its 50th anniversary in 1996, the HFMA provides services such as education, professional development and networking opportunities. The association also strives to influence healthcare policy.
"The HFMA exists to help its members excel in their jobs or careers," says Richard Clarke, its president and chief executive officer.
The recent development of the HFMA's Knowledge Network, launched in 1997, is a prime example of helping the individual. Based in Washington, the network answers calls by members requesting information or help with problems.
The HFMA also has created a competency model that will help members assess their professional development. In the future, members will be able to take a self-assessment test to chart their strengths or weaknesses in specific core competencies. Based on their score, the HFMA will advise members on how to meet their career goals.
The organization has succeeded in sharply increasing its membership. When Clarke became CEO of the association in June 1986, membership numbers were slightly less than 26,000, with most individuals from hospital settings. Today the HFMA's growing network exceeds 35,000 people in 70 chapters, with less than half the members from hospitals.
Technology has allowed the HFMA to keep in touch with members through its World Wide Web site, audiovisual presentations and weekly faxes. Previously members received monthly mailings.
"That makes people feel good," says Lori Mitchell, HFMA chairwoman. "It makes them feel they're up to date on what's going on."
Growth in numbers was and continues to be an important goal for the HFMA.
"A growing organization is viewed as being vibrant," Clarke says. "It provides the resources and people power to continue to grow."
The HFMA also has worked to diversify the makeup of its membership base through its market diversification strategy. The national association works with its local chapters to provide them with tools to identify speakers and put together different educational programs. The HFMA provides services geared specifically toward particular healthcare settings as well as broad-based information for everyone in its member base.
The Healthcare Financial Management Association changed its name from the Hospital Financial Management Association in 1986. Its journal also has adapted to provide information from specific perspectives of the industry.
Today the HFMA's members are financial managers from a number of settings ranging from hospitals to integrated delivery systems, long-term- and ambulatory-care facilities, insurance companies, managed-care organizations, medical group practices, public accounting and consulting firms, and government agencies.
"What might look to be a symbolic change in name was to help members look more broadly," Mitchell says. "We recognized that the delivery of services to patients focused not totally on hospitals but includes a continuum of care. We understood this organization supports the success of members working in a number of organizations over the delivery system."