Albert ’10 drives change in health care, financial analytics in Maine and beyond

Analytics might be the business world’s newest buzzword, but MBS alum Randy Albert ’10 has been driving innovation in the field for years.

Albert is Associate Vice President of Finance and Analytics for Northern Light Health, a role which grew both from his knowledge and expertise and from the system’s increasing demand for data and analysis. After being recruited to a manager-level position in financial planning, Albert’s role expanded quickly to meet the organization’s needs.

“When I started, we were a team of three,” says Albert, who joined Northern Light in 2016. “But as demands kept coming into my department, my team and responsibilities kept expanding. These demands were new for Northern Light Health, but we quickly rose to the challenge.”

Within a few months, Albert was promoted to a director-level role that grew to include not only financial planning and analysis, but also decision support.

Financial planning and analysis involves the fundamental functions of finance, including forecasting and budgeting. Decision support, however, is a very healthcare-centric department, says Albert. It is focused on using data for different types of modeling, such as discovering why there is a cost difference to perform the same procedure at different facilities, or analyzing the variation in care given to patients with similar diagnoses.

As the AVP of Finance and Analytics, Albert also oversees the business intelligence (BI) department, the performance management team, and the finance analytical support structure at each member hospital.

“Business intelligence is front and center of the health system,” says Albert. “Our team is helping to drive change in the organization through data visualization, in areas such as patient access and operational performance.”

Operational improvement is an area in which Albert is well-versed: two years ago, he was asked to co-lead Northern Light Health’s Operational Excellence program aimed at facilitating change and driving integration throughout the organization.

“Over the past couple of years, we’ve really become an integrated health system,” says Albert. “Our software and electronic health records systems varied across our member hospitals, which was a barrier to seamlessly treating a patient from one care setting to another. We’ve made a tremendous transformation by implementing our single electronic health record and other shared platforms, bringing great savings to the organization during a time when reimbursement for services has a downward trend.”

With such a proven ability for connection and communication, it’s no wonder Albert, who graduated with a degree in finance, was first drawn to marketing.

“I applied to UMaine as an undecided student, so I started in the academic and career exploration program,” he says. “I’m personable, so after my first year I figured marketing was for me.”

Shortly after declaring his major, Albert was connected to MetLife through the UMaine Career Center, where he was hired into a financial role. As a non-traditional student, he balanced full-time work with his business classes.

“I found I had a knack for finance, so I shifted my studies away from marketing,” he says. “I got my financial planning license, and it all just kind of happened. I definitely didn’t have a traditional path.”

Even in this happenstance financial career, Albert is still making use of his ability to connect people and ideas. In July 2019 he was appointed chair of the Healthcare Financial Management Association (HFMA) Financial Analytics Leadership Council, a role in which he’s wasted no time bridging the geographic and thought gaps present in American healthcare.

“The HFMA is a widely-known, industry-adopted body which lobbies for healthcare finance initiatives,” explains Albert. “The group has different councils; the Financial Analytics Leadership Council is tasked with highlighting the struggles healthcare systems across the country face in order to improve financial and operational performance and patient care.”

The fact that these different healthcare systems are so siloed is a primary concern for Albert, and already he’s implemented corrective measures.

“When I talk to others around the country, they have great ideas,” he says, “but the crazy thing is, we’re competing rather than regularly talking to one another.”

One of the first things Albert did to address this issue was create a digital forum where the healthcare systems can share ideas about financial analytics. Each month, members take turns presenting via Skype and answering questions like how do you measure this?  and how do you visualize that?

“Healthcare is a business, sure,” says Albert, “but at the end of the day, it’s about making things better for the patients. There are many things broken in United States healthcare, and this is one way of breaking down walls and encouraging disruption.”

And so, as he navigates the world of financial analytics, it is this care-centric focus for Mainers and healthcare patients everywhere that makes Albert’s success one data point that requires little analysis.