Fol­low the leader

HFMA names Fifer to re­place de­part­ing Clarke

Modern Healthcare - - THE WEEK IN HEALTHCARE - Paul Barr

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.

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