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Leveraging financial systems for healthcare efficiency: Insights from an HFMA roundtable

from  June 6, 2024 | 4 min read

In the ever-evolving world of healthcare, delivering efficiencies remains a perpetual challenge. The recent pressure on NHS bodies to enhance productivity amidst inflation and reduced budgets has intensified this challenge. 

Against this backdrop, a roundtable convened by HFMA, supported by Unit4, delved into the role of finance in driving efficiencies and the imperative for robust financial systems to support these efforts.

The roundtable participants, comprising finance leaders, planning managers, and analysts, explored the potential contributions of finance teams in identifying efficiencies and enhancing productivity within their operations. 

With the overarching efficiency ask for the NHS in 2023/24 at 2.2%, the need to delve deeper into financial systems to uncover significant savings became evident.

Key takeaways from the participants 

The initial discussion emphasized the importance of understanding shifts in healthcare delivery methodologies, particularly in the wake of the pandemic. 

Traditional metrics like elective and non-elective patient counts may not fully capture the innovative approaches clinicians employ, such as virtual consultations and streamlined pathways. These approaches contribute to improved patient care but may not align with traditional activity measures.

The transformative impact of modern finance systems in swiftly identifying expenditure patterns and problem areas was discussed in detail. By harnessing data analytics and automation, finance teams can provide invaluable insights, facilitating informed decision-making and operational improvements.

The group keenly discussed the need for finance systems to evolve in tandem with the changing healthcare landscape.While current systems can aid in streamlining processes and improving reporting, future investments in enterpri se resource planning systems should align with the shift towards value-based healthcare and address health inequalities.

Integration of financial and non-financial metrics should be prioritized to drive efficiency improvements. By leveraging patient-level costing data and benchmarking against common metrics, healthcare organizations can identify inefficiencies and drive performance enhancements.

Click to read Enhancing public sector citizen outcomes with ERP (Gated)

Data tools bridging the gap

The discussion also touched upon the importance of interoperability among various data systems to facilitate seamless information exchange across healthcare organizations. 

While a universal system across the NHS may not be feasible, leveraging data warehousing and reporting tools can bridge the gap, enabling stakeholders to access comprehensive patient information irrespective of the system used.

Attention was drawn to the potential of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotic process automation (RPA) in automating manual tasks and facilitating real-time reporting. By offloading repetitive tasks, finance teams can focus on higher-value activities, such as strategic planning and decision support.

Participants emphasized the critical role of finance teams in driving efficiency within healthcare organizations. Here are some insightful points:

1. Finance team evolution

Traditionally, finance teams focused on historical financial reporting and budgetary control. However, the current landscape requires a more proactive approach.

Finance teams now need to embrace data analysis, champion collaboration with clinicians and operational teams, and optimize financial systems to identify areas for improvement and drive efficiency gains.

2. Challenges and solutions in financial systems

Legacy finance systems often have limitations in integrating data from different sources, manual data management, and a lack of features for forward planning and scenario modeling. 

It was suggested that organizations leverage existing systems for basic reporting but also explore options like enterprise resource planning (ERP), human capital management (HCM), and financial planning and analysis (FP&A) for better data integration and invest in automation (e.g., RPA, and AI) for repetitive tasks.

3. Benefits of agile finance systems

Agile finance systems provide faster access to accurate data, improved cost awareness, flexibility to adapt to new models, and technology as an ally through Cloud-based solutions and automation. 

These benefits empower clinicians by providing them with the data, tools, and flexibility they need to focus on patient care effectively.



4. Data analysis and collaboration

Effective data analysis is essential, but true efficiency gains come from translating insights into actionable changes through collaboration between finance teams, clinicians, and operational staff. 

Collaborative solutions help communicate insights clearly, engage stakeholders, and model and plan changes effectively.

Final thoughts

The roundtable affirmed finance's pivotal role in healthcare efficiency and the indispensable nature of robust financial systems. As healthcare continues to evolve, investments in technology, interoperability, and analytics will be paramount in unlocking efficiencies, improving services, and, ultimately, enhancing patient outcomes. 

By fostering collaboration and innovation, finance teams can spearhead transformative change, paving the way for a more efficient and sustainable healthcare ecosystem.

How Unit4 solutions bridge the gap between expectations and reality.

Unit4 helps public sector organizations maximize resources, reduce costs, and increase accountability, resulting in more impactful service delivery. Our purpose-built model helps you manage projects, programs, and the people who make them happen more effectively. 

We have designed our enterprise solutions to aid the public sector in facing the rising demand for services with limited funds. Our fully Cloud-based ERP platform is developed to simplify your back-office systems. 

Our system integrates multiple services and tools into a single working environment, creating a lightweight and intuitive user experience for your entire organization.

Intelligent automation simplifies day-to-day workflows, freeing staff to pursue higher service standards and redirecting time and money to more productive areas. AI-powered analytics provide real-time insights to match resources to needs and create actionable forecasts for finance, HR, and service demand. This drives better engagement, efficiency, and insights across the organization.

You can download the report – Driving Efficiency in Healthcare for me detail on the roundtable discussion or ask an expert about how Unit4 can help your public sector organization. 

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