Women Leaders

Michele Cusack, Northwell Health

Michele Cusack

Culture and People

Editor’s Note

Michele Cusack oversees Northwell Health’s day-to-day finance operations, in addition to managing various corporate financial operations and operational teams across the organization. Previously, she was deputy CFO. Cusack is a CPA and also has an administrative role on the Finance and Audit Committees of Northwell’s Board of Trustees. She is a member of Hofstra University’s Zarb School of Business Dean’s Advisory Board. Prior to Northwell, Cusack worked at Deloitte & Touche. She holds a B.B.A and an M.B.A. from Hofstra University.

Institution Brief

Northwell Health (northwell.edu) delivers world-class clinical care throughout the New York metropolitan area, pioneering research at the Feinstein Institute for Medical Research, and a visionary approach to medical education, highlighted by the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine at Hofstra/Northwell and the Hofstra Northwell School of Graduate Nursing and Physician Assistant Studies. Northwell Health is the largest integrated healthcare system in New York State with a total workforce of more than 68,000 employees.

Will you discuss the CFO role at Northwell Health and how critical is it today that this role is deeply engaged in business strategy?

The environment is changing quickly and that makes every strategic decision today that much more important to position us for success in the future. The CFO role provides the rapidly changing financial dynamics associated with all of the various options and opportunities we wish to pursue and ensures that the strategic road we are on is a financially viable one.

Is it more challenging today to plan long-term given the transformation taking place in the industry?

Yes. The long-term planning behind our vision and strategy hasn’t changed. It’s just the steps we’re taking along the way that are challenging and require us to think differently about how we approach things.

The overall strategy is also impacted by elements like government reductions in how we get paid, new regulations or compliance requirements that we have to put in place, and other such factors.

Will there only be a handful of very large health systems as you look to the future?

I do believe there will mainly be large health systems because they have to be able to deal with regulation and compliance, and also be able to leverage the scale and cost efficiencies across the organizations. For instance, we have one IT department that is able to function across all our platforms and facilities – and leverage that IT cost.

In the long run, as the environment continues to change with further care coordination, new market entrants and pressure on price, achieving economies of scale and the use of technology to improve efficiency will be critical to succeed. The inability to take advantage of this will pressure independent and local hospitals.

Northwell Health is known as an industry leader and is regularly recognized with awards. What makes Northwell Health so special?

The culture and the people. It gives us a tremendous advantage. The collaboration that it helps inspire and allows us to innovate has been something that has kept me here and brings industry top talent here.

When we have a dynamic leader like Michael Dowling, it keeps everyone energized and following the path.