HFMA Recap – Technology’s Role in Value Based Care

The following is a guest blog post by Erin Wabol, Partner and CMO at Agency Ten22.

The unique exhibit hall atmosphere introduced by the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) this year was met with cheers and jeers from health IT vendors and attendees alike. Exhibitors used convention center issued displays which created a more homogenized atmosphere and leveled the playing field for companies without big budgets or expensive booths. Uniformity within “HFMA Central” was also a consistent theme throughout educational sessions. ZDoggMD and other speakers shared a common thread – how can organizations leverage technology to get the industry closer to value based care?

Value based care: more rotary car phone than iphone

Dr. Zubin Damania (ZDoggMD) did not disappoint with his musical parodies in the opening session that painted a picture of the highs and (mostly) lows of being a physician in current times. He captured the audience’s attention with his analogies of straddling technology adoption and decades-old regulations. To understand the realities of physicians’ struggles today, check out Doc Vader’s therapy sessions.

ZDoggMD joked that digital transformation is here but instead of an iphone, a rotary dial car phone is the current speed. According to Kevin Holloran, senior director and sector leader of the not-for-profit healthcare group at Fitch Ratings, we could still be ten years away from true value-based care.

ZDoggMD and other providers around the country aren’t just burned out, they’re fried. His proposed Healthcare 3.0 movement says yes to data, tools, resources and autonomy. Analytics to reduce physician burnout are still in their infancy but are crucial to provider engagement and a key attribute of high performing organizations.

As physicians learn to adopt new technology, the role of health system financial leaders is also becoming more technical. A new Black Book report shows 80% of health system CFOs believe that their organizations need to engage in digital transformation efforts if they’re going to remain competitive – or perhaps even to survive.

Build an Analytics Ecosystem

A top CFO frustration mentioned at the conference was not having the level of insights to be ready for risk. When asked “how many of you think you currently have the analytical infrastructure to succeed in risk contracts”, the poll of approximately 50-60 attendees revealed only 16 percent were well-equipped. The remaining 84 percent were not.

Without analytical insights, how can organizations reduce revenue leakage or fully adopt value-based care? CFOs must prioritize technology investments that deliver maximum dollar and clinical value. But how do they get to the insights?

Health IT systems are big and expensive. Knowing where to start is key to building an analytics ecosystem for healthcare CFOs. Presenters Daniel Marino of Lumina Health Partners and James Grana, chief analytics officer of Rush Health suggested a slower, more thoughtful approach directly aligned with an organization’s vision. Setting strategic priorities is by far the most overlooked step in the journey to analytics implementation and adoption. Healthcare organizations must know and understand priorities before forging ahead. Here are some musts and myths Marino and Grana shared for building an analytic ecosystem:


  • Have a clear understanding of strategic priorities and what you’re solving for
  • Evolve data into a strategic asset for the organization
  • Form a committee to create one source of truth
  • Data aggregation from multiple systems; stay focused and start slow with a data technician, data analyst, and an analytic liaison with operations
  • Clear collaboration between analytics and operations


  • Have to purchase a robust analytic tool
  • Can’t get claims data from payers
  • Departments must have access to their own data
  • Lead with the legal requirements of data management

Although the Orlando weather was hot, using technology in the journey towards value based care was hotter. I look forward to seeing health IT vendors’ collective advancements toward smarter technology for healthcare’s revenue cycle and reimbursement at the 2020 HIMSS Convention, also being held at the Orange County Convention Center from March 3 -9, 2020.