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Phong Bui Spotlight

Phong T. Bui, MBA, MPA, FACHE

Chief Financial Officer, Department of Medicine, Penn Medicine

Mr. Bui has served as CFO for the Department of Medicine for the past 8 years at Penn Medicine. Prior to his role in Philadelphia, Mr. Bui rose quickly through the Finance ranks at Mt. Sinai in New York City. His journey into healthcare almost didn’t happen. Phong arrived to the United States as an 8 year old Vietnamese refugee growing up in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. It was never a goal to go into healthcare leadership when as a son of farmers, feeding the family was the primary goal. Following his bachelor’s and master’s degrees at University of Rochester and Rochester Institute of Technology, Phong set his sights on Silicon Valley with a focus on e-commerce marketing. Unfortunately, in 2003 the dot com bust had changed those goals quickly and a friend encouraged him to apply for a role at Mt. Sinai. His first role was as an accountant where he was hired to manage the P&L statement for the Anesthesia faculty practice plan. He initiated dashboards to better support decisions within the department and within 6 months in his role, he was supporting the consulting team from Earnst and Young to integrate a new billing system into the practice plan. Soon he was leading practice plan analytics developing more dashboards and supporting recruitment for the practice. He attributes his early success to his inquisitive nature, always questioning things to learn more about the healthcare system.
To early careerists, there is a high demand for junior financial analysts but a steep learning curve in healthcare. Translating the financial results into stories is a skill to develop to ensure a connection with the operations team. With such a highly matrixed healthcare industry, he recommends approximately 18 months to grasp the nomenclature and understanding of the financial flow. With a system at the cross roads of value based and fee for service payment systems, developing systems as payer agnostic is essential.
Phong will be attending his first Congress this upcoming March 2024 after achieving his recent Fellow status through a Penn Medicine ACHE advancement program. Over the past 4 years, Penn Medicine has developed 65 leaders to join ACHE and complete the requirements to achieve their Fellowship in Healthcare Leadership. Penn Medicine’s Human Resources department scheduled the full year for executives including curriculum, learning requirements and community service hours each week. While Phong does not see a high number of Finance professionals in ACHE, he appreciates his lens into operations with his membership and feels he should have joined sooner.