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Looking back on her long career in health care finance, Maria Mastrangelo, McLean Hospital’s finance director, said that she has figured out the key to professional happiness. “Things are always changing in health care, and that’s the thing that makes it interesting,” she said.
Mastrangelo came to McLean 19 years ago, after working at Blue Cross Blue Shield, the New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston, and several small health care-related companies. She started at McLean as budget manager, eventually moving up to her current role as finance director.
During her time at the hospital, she has seen many changes. “I’ve seen lots of changes and improvements, especially to the finance systems, changes primarily driven by the reimbursement environment and payer requirements,” said Mastrangelo. In addition, she said that decision support systems “were developed during my years at the Deaconess as rules changed, and the need became to identify patient costs at the case level. It’s these systems today that we rely on to bring financial data to the negotiation table with payers.”
Keeping up with these changes has been a constant in Mastrangelo’s career. “McLean has kept up with technological changes over the years, and that’s been very interesting and professionally challenging to be a part of,” she said.
Other changes that Mastrangelo has seen concern roles and opportunities for women in management and finance. She recalled times early in her career when she would give presentations to board members and management leadership, and she would often be the only woman in the room. “There weren’t many role models for young women trying to make a career in health care finance,” said Mastrangelo. “I hope I have been able to change that in a small way with staff I have overseen over the years.”
Mastrangelo said that “things have definitely improved,” not just in terms of women in the workplace but also for real opportunities for professional advancement and responsibility. While she found that women tended to be in clinical roles when she started out in health care, she said that today “there are more women around the table at meetings, more women in CEO, CFO, and management positions.”
Also, Mastrangelo said, “We get more interest and questions about financial issues from women who work on the clinical side. Some of them want to sit in on a financial meeting and learn more about financial planning and hospital administration.”
Overall, Mastrangelo has stayed engaged and excited about her work because of the professional and societal changes that have allowed women like herself to succeed. She remains enthusiastic about her work at McLean. “I look back and I say, ‘wow, has it really been 19 years?’” said Mastrangelo. “But I still like what I do and who I get to do it with. There are always new challenges, always something new to learn.”