Follow the leader
HFMA names Fifer to replace departing Clarke
Joseph Fifer, named the next president and CEO of the Healthcare Financial Management Association, says he intends to keep the healthcare financial executive association on a similar track it has followed under departing President and CEO Richard Clarke.
“My approach is more going to be furthering the agenda we have today,” said Fifer, 52, who will leave his job as vice president of finance for five-hospital Spectrum Health, Grand Rapids, Mich., to join Westchester, Ill.-based HFMA in June. “I’m not looking for major changes in strategy or agenda,” he said. “I’m honored to follow Dick Clarke in his leadership,” Fifer said. Clarke, 63, announced his retirement in July (July 25, 2011, p. 11).
Fifer said an area he will continue to emphasize is for the hospital industry to become more transparent to patients, something he has pursued at Spectrum in West Michigan and nationally as an architect of a 2007 HFMA report on the subject that was produced while he was chairman of the HFMA. “Put yourself in the position of a patient and try to navigate your way through a process,” Fifer said. People want to know what their financial responsibility is, and “we need to do a better job serving our patients in that respect,” he said.
Fifer will join the organization after the 38,000-plus member HFMA reported a loss of $690,000 on its Internal Revenue Service Form 990 for the year ended May 31. A year earlier, the organization lost $73,000, Fifer says he will continue to emphasize transparency. according to its Form 990. But the HFMA’S annual report for the latest one-year period, which follows Financial Accounting Standards Board standards, shows the association as having an operating profit of $150,000. Net investment income for that year, which includes unrealized gains, was a positive $2.8 million.
And Fifer said the HFMA is financially on solid footing. “HFMA is in good health. … The financial condition of the association is strong and steady,” he said.
The HFMA declined to provide Fifer’s planned compensation. Clarke, according to its most recent Form 990, received total compensation of $726,000 in the year ended May 31, 2011.
Fifer worked at Spectrum Health for 11 years, and executives there say he will be missed. “Although Spectrum Health will be losing a visionary and dedicated executive, Joe is moving on to a position that is one of the most important in healthcare finance today, one in which he can use his expertise to benefit healthcare organizations across the country at a time when such leadership is desperately needed,” said Michael Freed, executive vice president of corporate resources, and chief financial officer, in a statement e-mailed from a company spokesman.