Earlier this month, Microsoft attended the Healthcare Financial Management Association’s annual conference, which highlighted and examined the latest standards of professional financial management and governance in health care.

The HFMA is the only professional body in the UK dedicated to setting and promoting the highest standards in these areas and this year’s conference was attended by almost 700 delegates, creating great discussion around the latest in financial solution offerings, aimed at transforming healthcare and providing better over service delivery.

During the day, Microsoft’s UK Finance Director Ivana Luketic Kostic discussed the vital role that Finance Directors and their teams play in helping their organisation utilise technology to drive transformation and improve patient experience. Joined by an NHS Trust that had already started their digital journey, as well as several other organisations in the audience looking to learn more, it was a fantastic experience to see where different organisations where on their own journeys and the key areas that they found challenging.

After an interactive session filled with discussion and insight, it was clear that there were some key take points concerning the digital transformation processes amongst financial teams.

We take a look at some of the key issues affecting finance directors in the health industry.

Improving Mobile working

Throughout the day, several health organisations cited the lack of mobile working options available to the workforce as a significant barrier to transformation.

With many health staff required to travel to different sites and some patients relying on treatment coming to them, the ability to work on the move could help improve efficiency and the patient experience.

However, logistics, mobility and internal staff communications are a real challenge across multiple sites.

With collaborative tools such as Skype for Business, Yammer and Microsoft Teams, Financial departments can work more efficiently wherever they may be, whilst still maintaining that sense of team work and community.

There is a fine balance needed between working on site and on the go, Microsoft finance teams aim to achieve the correct balance with these tools. We aim to do this to both drive revenue whilst simultaneously cutting costs. Learn more about how these tools can be utilised within your organisations here.

Managing data

Delegates on the day also talked a lot about data, and the increasing need for more advanced tools to help collate and processes it efficiently. Many finance teams analyse and collate data yet often have to do this manually. One organisation commented saying that they were in the process of collating up to sixty Excel files and consolidating them manually. This places a huge strain on finical departments and impacts efficiency, resulting in time taken away from other important tasks.

Office 365 offers a variety of tools that can help ease the strain of these demanding processes. With powerful tools such as PowerBI and Excel extensions work in the background to collate information from different sources. This takes a huge amount of workload off otherwise manual processes, allowing you to focus more time on exploring and analysing the data.

Learn more about what Office 365 can do for you, and more about what you may already, and yet not be using here.

Furthermore, Dynamics 365 brings the power of digital intelligence to make every decision you make. Thanks to Cortana, PowerBI and Azure Machine Learning, you can work to predict client’s needs, streamline operations, cut costs and increase efficiency.

This cloud-based Microsoft ERP system provides the relevant information you need to deliver strategic, data-driven insights to key departments. This helps you to gain immediate financial insights, drive corporate strategy and growth and decrease debt through efficient collection management.

Learn more about how Dynamics 365 can help to empower and transform your Financial Departments here.

Culture Change

One of the key points that was raised during the session was the need for a culture shift before significant transformation can occur.

With any shift in technology there are obstacles that can slow down or inhibit the transition to this digital first approach. But by moving towards a more mobile and digital way of working, healthcare providers can streamline much of their work.

For instance, Office 365 has played a vital role in easing the digital transformation for NHS organisations such as South London and Maudsley (SLAM). SLAM has migrated around 5,000 staff to Office 365 and replaced 2,000 old PC’s with state of the art devices, allowing the Trust’s clinicians to be mobile and to spend more time in the field with patients without sacrificing connectivity to their email and other office functions. Find out more here.

Cloud technologies can, however, create problems for finance teams as it means that software and technology are purchased ‘as a service’, with expenditure potentially moving from capital to revenue. Plus, where charges are based on use, there may be less certainty over future costs. There may also be VAT implications. CIPFA, has been asked to look at issues raised by ‘accounting for the cloud’ on behalf of its members and their employers and has produced a paper to explore some of the issues.

But how can you make your employees embrace a digital first culture? This is by no means an easy undertaking, especially when large organisations deal with generational divides in their workforce. You may experience some employees looking to embrace every new piece of technology that comes their way, whilst some prefer to stick to traditional business methods.

Catering to different staff member’s needs is also important when getting employees to embrace a digital first culture. Providing them with the tools that they need to work smarter and offering staff the choice, on any given day, to decide what the most appropriate location is for the work they’re about to do. This could be the office, a coffee shop, home or on route to a meeting. Technology and software such as Skype for Business and Office 365 play a key role in enabling greater flexibility. Find out more here.

Microsoft is committed to helping NHS organisations move to more digitally enabled healthcare. We have entered into an agreement with NHS Digital to offer special pricing tailored to the specific functionality requirements of the varied user profiles of people working in in the NHS.

To hear more about what O365 could do for your health organisation, click here