HCI also offers a comprehensive curriculum of on-site CPA-CPE-accredited professional education courses for professionals of all levels of experience, as well as specialized courses specifically designed to improve general knowledge and foster team building at the executive and board levels of healthcare organizations. All courses are developed and presented by HCI President Steven Berger.
Discover healthcare management resources from a practitioner's point of view via articles and books written by Steven Berger, HCI president and noted industry thought leader.
Financial executives at dozens of leading hospitals and healthcare organizations have experienced dramatic success with INSIGHTS.
Healthcare organizations are rapidly discovering that, in addition to adopting best practices for budgeting, forecasting, and reporting, they also have to make changes to the information technologies used to support their business process. To fulfill their mission, hospitals must learn to organize, manage, and access information more proficiently and overcome a variety of information technology challenges:
A central IT issue for healthcare organizations is successfully managing financial decision support data. Currently, hospitals reply on one of two different and widely used data management systems to handle this critical task: spreadsheets or database management.
In many hospitals, spreadsheets and similar file management systems and applications are still the predominant financial planning and budgeting tool. However, a recent CFO Magazine research study found that 60 percent of finance executives surveyed believed the process takes too long to complete. Likewise, the majority of respondents agreed it also is riddled with errors.
Though effective as personal productivity tools, spreadsheets—including MS Excel—have basic limitations. They are not collaborative planning applications, nor are they designed to handle large volumes of data. Planning for and managing a healthcare facility demands the secure, accurate consolidation of large amounts of disparate data, while supporting collaboration across a geographically dispersed enterprise. This is where spreadsheets such as Excel fall short.
The majority of database solutions in any healthcare enterprise are relatively simple. As systems handle larger problems, however, the number of applications the healthcare organization has or can afford decreases. At the low end, flexible and rapid application development solutions like Excel are commonly used. Life cycles are short, bureaucracy and structure are limited, and mistakes are not life threatening to the organization. Cost per solution is relatively low.
But, as solutions become more sophisticated and critical and the number of users increases, security and reliability become more important and solutions need to scale. Maintainability is more important, because systems are built by many people and continue beyond their participation. More time is spent designing systems, because more people and issues are touched and the organization's survival depends on them. When changes are made, the complexity and critical nature of the system requires longer implementation, testing, and documentation. All this increases costs and mistakes become more expensive.
From a logistics and performance standpoint, spreadsheets, like Excel, are fundamentally unsuited for a complex, dynamic, shared process such as financial decision support and planning at a hospital. A quick survey reveals a serious list of limitations:
Such inherent weaknesses undermine the accuracy of the entire planning and management process. Finance is viewed as pushing "bad" information and loses credibility. Managers' confidence erodes and they become less engaged in the process.
Clearly, spreadsheets are not the best way to manage a top-notch financial decision support, budgeting, and planning process. They simply cannot support the kind of planning needed in a changing business environment, namely collaborative, enterprise-wide activities that deliver reliable, real-time results.
Healthcare enterprises that effectively deploy and manage advanced database management give their organizations a competitive edge both financially and in their ability to respond to changing industry conditions and user requirements. By relying on products such as Structured Query Language (SQL), paired with SQL Server and .net architecture, they can take advantage of the strengths of these industry-leading products to deliver successful financial management under today's most demanding business conditions:
A spreadsheet such as Excel is a very powerful tool, but is it not meant to be used as a database. Retrieving historical data, form entry of data, mass changes of data, and presentation of quality reports are difficult to accomplish. The functional focus is more on spreadsheet accounting calculations, while SQL Server is more focused on huge business database solutions. For hospitals and healthcare organizations, spreadsheets and similar file management systems and applications simply do not offer all the features, scalability, performance, reliability, and security of more sophisticated solutions that are available from database management systems like SQL Server.