An incessant diet of news about providers on the take, under indictment and being led away in handcuffs has created the impression that "healthcare is a rip-off."
With that admonishment, Richard Henley, the Healthcare Financial Management Association's newly installed chairman, last week challenged chief financial officers to promote honesty within their institutions and lead with integrity.
"We need to commit to being the moral compass with our organizations," Henley told financial managers attending the HFMA's Annual National Institute in Anaheim, Calif. At deadline, the association counted 2,700 attendees, a 16% decline from last year.
Offended by the unscrupulous behavior of the industry's bad apples and "angered by excuses that somehow it wasn't their fault," Henley hopes to empower CFOs to scrub up the industry's sullied image. That's one reason he chose "Leading with Integrity: the Bottom Line" as the theme of this year's gathering.
Henley's own organization, Vassar Brothers Hospital in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., has been stung by accusations of wrongdoing. The 257-bed hospital, where he serves as executive vice president and treasurer, and neighboring 317-bed Saint Francis Hospital participate in a joint operating agreement, which is the focus of a state antitrust lawsuit brought last year. The state has charged the hospitals with conspiring to fix prices, an allegation the hospitals deny. The case is scheduled to go to trial in January 2000.
Amid last week's festivities in Anaheim, the HFMA kicked off an intensive self-examination and mission rewriting process led by the board's chairman-elect, Connie Cape. The vice president and CFO at Mercy Memorial Hospital in Monroe, Mich., Cape said suggestions made at a brainstorming session attended by about 100 members ranged from "changing dramatically" to "tweaking things." At roughly 35,000, membership in the Westchester, Ill.-based organization is flat. Cape said the stagnation of membership growth is helping to drive the strategic planning process.