Q&A With Dan Yunker

| 3/3/2020
Q&A With Dan Yunker

Crowe closed out 2019 by proudly announcing that Dan Yunker joined the firm as a principal in healthcare internal audit services. Yunker comes to Crowe from various roles in the Chicago-area healthcare arena, most recently as the Loyola Medicine regional interim CFO. Brian Sanderson, managing principal of healthcare services at Crowe, took an opportunity to welcome Yunker and hear how his past experiences will guide him in leading change with the internal audit group at Crowe.

Q: What would your co-workers say is your superpower?

A: This was a good question, so I asked my team. What I heard was:
  • The ability to find the path forward
  • Enthusiasm and steadiness under pressure
  • An effective way of engaging the listener
  • Collaboration both within the organization and with clients, with a focus on understanding what’s important to people and helping achieve success together

Q: Tell me about your previous roles on the healthcare provider side. How has serving in these roles enhanced your approach to consulting?

A: I have enjoyed a fortunate career. My prior roles have been at the forefront of leading change and finding new ways to improve quality and serve the customer.

Including my first noninternship role post-college, I have been allowed to be in leadership roles. In the various executive roles I have held, whether as a CFO, CEO, director, or member of a board, I have focused on people and engaging them in what really matters by empowering them to produce incredible outcomes. I have found that transparency with a clear direction and the ability to pivot when new and validated information surfaces is critical to making incremental steps toward achieving an organization’s goals and objectives.

I have learned over the years that people want to win; they want to contribute. They have good intentions, but many times they don’t have the bigger picture of how they can contribute in meaningful ways, so they default to conventional ways they know. Consulting is about leveraging a body of knowledge that successfully accelerates the solving of a problem or the advancement of visionary ideas. Tapping into the knowledge of the people in a firm like Crowe and deploying technology to accelerate or improve on new ways to use the knowledge is an incredible platform that can translate to clients achieving their goals and objectives. From an internal audit and digital security perspective, I refer to this as achieving a return on risk.

Q: You’ve spent several years building connectivity for healthcare providers in the Chicago area. What are some unique qualities of the Chicago healthcare community? How has it changed in terms of digital transformation?

A: Although Chicago is a large market, it was slow to consolidate when compared to other parts of the country that I experienced while with the Healthcare Financial Management Association. I joined the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council (MCHC) as its CFO in 2005, and at that time, there were 90-plus hospitals and less than 20% were aligned in a system. When I departed as the MCHC’s CEO a decade later, the market had changed drastically, and today even the stand-alone safety net hospitals are exploring alignment, with only a few remaining as single community hospitals.

The promise of mergers in the ’90s and early 2000s was based on the desire to scale to gain operating efficiencies, but looking back, I think it is safe to say that these efficiencies never really met expectations. I believe this is because individual crafts or ways of doing things at the local level were left as is with the hope that they would contribute to the greater whole. It was not until systems began to invest in centralization and efforts to systematize the business that efficiency gains began. Systems can leverage brand to gain market share, technologies are being used for improving processes, and physicians are aligning. This has been incrementally contributing to a better delivery of care across the communities served. Today, all the buzz is about artificial intelligence, machine learning, and other technology advancements. I chose to take my career to Crowe because I believe, as a firm, it is in the best position to transform various aspects of the business of healthcare by incorporating its deep specialization with data, advanced analytics, and use of technologies to improve the manual processes we rely on today.

Q: Can you share an insight or two from your healthcare association experience?

A: Leading in an organization that operates in a constantly changing industry has positioned me to experience decades of influence and learning. In an association you gain a deep perspective of many types of organizations and issues they face, you have the opportunity to create policy agendas and advance campaigns that lead to legislation, and everyday opportunities present themselves through the market and the members you serve to build thought leadership, products, and services designed to solve problems. All of these activities build a competency to foster collaboration, an ability to navigate competing priorities, and a discipline to successfully advance measurable plans.

Q: What initiatives are you planning to undertake in healthcare internal audit services at Crowe?

A: In internal audit and digital security functions, Crowe has incredible assets and the foundation to transform internal audit for the industry. We will change the course of conventional methods that once had a place but have not kept current with the mounting risks that health systems are exposed to today. Our digital economy affords us the opportunity to leverage technology advancements to close the risk coverage gap faced by the industry.

Crowe as a firm has delivered high-quality internal audits and assessments and has fulfilled management requests on hundreds of IT, finance, compliance, operational, cyber, and brand-related risk projects. These projects, completed for hundreds of hospitals by hundreds of Crowe auditors, have been high quality and consistent because of our knowledge base, workflow, and report generation tool. Traditionally and even with our tools, the process to test control and assessment projects has been highly manual.

In the digital economy, we must accelerate and use data and analytics to produce insight that completes these manual steps in automated ways. By doing so we leverage the human capacity to inform and contribute to business decisions, we reduce the time it takes getting to answers, and we align better with the speed we need to make informed decisions. In addition, by taking advantage of technology, we can use full data sets as opposed to sample testing to verify that the conclusions being reached are complete or in real time.

The result is combinatorial thinking: Every day, leaders use a variety of heuristics to make sense of complex situations. Most decision-making operates in the context of optimizing an objective (say, maximizing revenue or minimizing costs) in the presence of a variety of constraints (say, budgets or service quality levels that have to be maintained). Combinatorial thinking, which is encompassed in prescriptive analytics and advanced analytics, can provide answers in ways that were unachievable with limited human capital resources. The time is now to incorporate these tactics into the risk assessment and testing process.

Q: Fill in the blank: In three years, ____________.

A: I want my major accomplishment to have been elevating the internal audit and digital security functions to a level that is considered essential to the success of an organization with an approach that is efficient because of leveraging knowledge and technology. Imagine a world where executives are operating in a networked platform that identifies and mitigates risks before they ever surface, having a center of excellence that measurably contributes to the performance of the organization so that our clients achieve a return on risk from investment in these functions.

Q: Given the many challenges facing healthcare providers today, what do you think their top priorities should be?

A: Priorities change often, but I believe today that the pressures on costs are extreme and to have a competitive advantage or even for an organization to survive, executives must lead transformations that rethink and execute on new ways to provide care, conduct business, improve the health of populations, and diversify assets in today’s digital economy. These transformations will be accompanied by new risks, and business is about managing risks and generating a return that makes you better than others you compete with.

Q: What can healthcare CFOs do today to simplify their business?

A: Find ways to eliminate operating costs driven by manual processes, unnecessary errors, and redundant workflows and take advantage of the skills of internal audit professionals to drive better performance that is aligned with where the organization is going.

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Brian B. Sanderson
Managing Principal, Healthcare Services