My Interview with the President, Jeff Buehrle

My Interview with the President… Jeff Buehrle
By Kelly Ryan
Regional Director of Business Development

Healthcare Resource Group

Recently I had the privilege of meeting with Jeff Buehrle, the 2018- 2019 President for the Arizona HFMA Chapter. Chapter success requires a strong leader with vision to inspire and guide a volunteer board, creativity to maintain and grow membership and, focus to ensure the HFMA mission is adhered to. Jeff has the mad skills to do just that. He brings a wealth of experience to the position both with his 32 years in Healthcare Finance and, participating with Arizona HFMA in various roles for more than 30 years. We are looking forward to the continuation of his term as President and the difference we know he will make.

KR:  Jeff, thanks for taking time to talk about your current term as President of Arizona HFMA. You’ve been on the job for almost four (4) months and we’re just coming off a successful Fall Conference. The conference was not only well attended, but the education was amazing and the networking opportunities were well planned and fun. What were your three favorite takeaways from the conference?

JB: Yes, thank you Kelly. My three take ways from the fall conference were: first, our chapter has amazing leadership, especially on our Program Committee. This team pulled together a great conference. Second, a diverse agenda combining technical education and leadership skill training makes sure  that interested people attend and participate but also resulted in our members feeling that they got more out of the conference than maybe they even considered they would. Lastly, I heard in several presentations that we as leaders need to think differently. Stop using the B solution because it is safe and maybe easier to do, but pull out the A card and try something completely new and turn the project on its head. That is how you disrupt and find solutions that most would not have looked at otherwise.

KR: During your short tenure as President there have already been some significant enhancements, specifically in member communication. The webpage has a beautiful new makeover that is so much easier to maneuver and Cvent online registration is now available streamlining the process and eliminating the need for paper invoicing. Both were a long time coming and took a team to accomplish the final products but these are great improvements early in your Presidency. What do you see as your priorities for the remainder of your term?

JB: Kelly, again I am so proud of the leadership team, especially our Communication Committee and our chapter administration support team, KCA. Together the team designed and replaced an archaic web site with a user friendly platform. In addition they moved us on to an easy to use registration application, Cvent, which is standardized to the HFMA National Platform making data sharing easy. Finally, our leadership team is expanding our membership campaigns to target markets including payers and national health plans, physician groups, early careerists, and, in Arizona we added our Native American members. Part of this outreach includes looking at expanding our educational programs to include topics of interest to our target groups

KR: Like most chapters, maintaining and growing membership is always a key priority for HFMA Chapter leadership. What is your vision for improving the member experience and continuing to expand and grow membership?

JB: First and foremost is to listen to our members, both directly and through our Membership Survey. Both avenues provide valuable information to the chapter leadership team on how to affect change and, how to be responsive to our member’s shifting needs. Adding in our target markets to our growth formula has required greater flexibility and agility to align with our members needs.

KR: Providers have more and more options for education, CEUs and information online. How does HFMA provide better value for our provider organizations? How do we enhance the member experience?

JB:  Kelly as I stated earlier, the dynamics of our chapter is changing, and we must find ways to adapt. We earned two Yerger Awards for our Chapter with our participation and vision for both the Western Symposium and, the HERe conference, held this year on November 2nd and designed to address specific needs of women in the health industry. The HERe conference has been a huge hit and continues to grow each year. Men, if the agenda looks interesting please to attend. You won’t be bounced at the door.
The Western Symposium, held this year on January 13-16 in Las Vegas, combines the effort of program planning for both Region 10 and 11, the 13 most western state chapters, into a single event. By consolidating planning and delivery resources into a “Mini Annual Conference” we have been able to contract speakers that an individual chapter or single region could not afford. Through this consolidation we have been able to enhance the programing for our members at a very affordable price.
Lastly we are using scholarships and hosted provider slots to provide opportunities to members to get to any or all of the conferences. We know not every provider representative can afford the travel and the registration: therefore, we are coming up with unique ways to open some slots at our conferences for scholarship and hosted providers.

KR: You’ve been in healthcare for the last 32 years and see the evolution and changes that have taken place. What do think that healthcare will look like in 5 years?

JB: Wow. If I had that crystal ball I would start consulting, after I share with my current employer Banner Health, of course. I think we are going to see a “Medicare for all” program passed. We cannot continue to slice and dice healthcare to meet whatever direction the House, Senate or current President wants to take it. Hospitals cannot continue to bear the cost of a very broken system through Bad Debt and Charity. We are the only industry that expects the patient to be fixed in an emergency and then expect payment. Then we fight to get payment and hope it won’t be denied by the insurance company or, that the co-payment or deductibles won’t be too much for individual to pay. I also think we will see and have to expect decisions on end of life and expensive procedure authorizations. Finally, and probably more futuristic, the most transformative change we’ll see will be in the Pharmaceutical market with Bio-designed drugs to address the illness through genomics and genetics. This will be amazing discoveries but will then beg the question who will pay for it? Lots to consider and lots to do as leaders in Healthcare in the next five years and further out.

KR: Jeff, during your presentation at the Fall Conference you stressed not only your personal commitment to participating and volunteering with the chapter, you also challenged our membership to step up and volunteer. As a long-standing volunteer, what value has this provided you?

JB: Kelly thank you for asking. At first, 30 years ago, I think I saw it as extra work not unlike most people think of volunteering. I thought, where will I find the time and how will I be able to add any value? What I found out is the board and committees review and leverage skills and talents of each volunteer leader. Once volunteering I was able to validate the results of my work through review of attendee conference surveys, Membership Satisfaction Surveys, and through one on one time with members and sponsors. It is the time I spent with people that created the bonds and life-long network of colleagues and professionals that have helped guide me throughout my career and ultimately as the President of the AZ Chapter. Now, it is not work to me, it is giving back and helping shape our members, volunteers and board members to lead in the future.

KR:  Jeff, thanks so much for taking time to share your thoughts, experience and vision. One last easy question to wrap this up. It’s always fun to watch people struggle with the pronunciation of your last name when they go to introduce you at conferences. For the record, how is your last name pronounced? J

JB:   Funny, thank you for asking. The easiest way to spell it phonically is Burley (Buehrle) Thank you Kelly!