Recognizing that clinical transformation is a multidisciplinary sport, Bon Secours Virginia Health System has created a training camp to make sure its finance professionals are the best possible team players.

Twice a year, Bon Secours conducts a clinical transformation finance intensive. This seven-week course is designed to educate members of the system's financial staff about variations in cost and quality, the financial impact of quality, value-based payment and the evolving nature of health care reform.

"In 2012, we realized that reform is already here and we didn't have the level of finance support that we needed across the system," says Melinda Hancock, Bon Secours' senior vice president and chief financial officer for the Virginia market. "So we just jumped in."

In general, two to three finance staff members from each of Bon Secours' six markets are recruited to participate in each intensive, but nonfinancial professionals are also welcome. The course starts with a one-day, in-person session; subsequent sessions are delivered via weekly webinars. The curriculum covers:

  • Elements of health reform
  • Tools and decision support technology for clinical transformation
  • Clinical collaboration
  • Managed care
  • External tools for measuring value and the basics of meaningful use

Weekly homework assignments prepare participants to support clinical transformation in their own hospitals. For example, participants use the Hospital Compare website to see how their hospital quality scores compare with those of their competitors, as well as national averages and top performers. Another assignment: Meet with clinical leaders to review quality data, and find out what is being done to sustain or improve quality performance and how finance leaders might help.

Each Bon Secours market is expected to have at least one participant in each intensive. Individuals are not recruited based on their job titles, but rather by their interest levels.

"In some cases, participants are the people whose job function is to support clinical transformation, but in others, they are people who are just interested in learning more about reform," Hancock says. "We want to teach whoever wants to learn, and we need all levels involved."

Hancock presents some of the course content herself, but she also recruits subject matter experts from across the Bon Secours system to teach specific modules. At the final session, participants from each market present a clinical transformation opportunity in their own markets. One such project identified ways to reduce readmissions by helping patients to access medications after discharge; another sought to standardize supply purchases within each facility in the market.

"Not only have we raised the level of knowledge in many of our finance team members, but we also have created a working group out of the graduates," Hancock says. "And many of these individuals are now on systemwide learning communities for surgical services, critical care or other clinical areas. So they are using what they learned for systemwide clinical transformation efforts."