By JOE FLOWER
The system is unstable. We are already seeing the precursor waves of massive and multiple disturbances to come. Disruption at key leverage points, new entrants, shifting public awareness and serious political competition cast omens and signs of a highly changed future.
So what’s the frequency? What are the smart bets for a strategic chief financial officer at a payer or provider facing such a bumpy ride? They are radically different from today’s dominant consensus strategies. In this five-part series, Joe Flower lays out the argument, the nature of the instability, and the best-bet strategies.
“It’s a buckdancer’s choice, my friend. Better take my advice. You know all the rules by now, and the fire from the ice.” — Robert Hunter, “Uncle John’s Band”
Chief Financial Officer: tough gig. Seriously. Whether for a payer or a healthcare provider, the CFO’s job is the exact point where the smiling faces on the billboards meet the double entry, the financing, the payer mix, the debt structure. And it all has to work out in the black. It has to do that sustainably, not only this year but next year and five years from now. Best guess? It’s going to get a lot tougher, with shifting revenue streams, market boundaries, new technologies, growing consumer expectations and uncertain politics.
Raise your hand
if you can tell me the significance of these names: Univac, Control Data,
Burroughs, Digital, Honeywell, IBM, NCR.
dominated the computer world in 1980. As of 1990, all but IBM were gone, bankrupt,
subsumed into some other company, or just out of the computer business. The one
that survived, IBM, is the one that said, “Maybe we should at least get a
toehold in this new personal computer game, even though it is risky for our
main revenue streams.” All the others went “poof.”
A number of
factors—radical new technologies with vast potential, ramifying customer
frustration, shifting user base—are coming together to put healthcare today at
exactly the place the computing world was in 1980.