We recently talked about the importance of adding to the technology stack only where necessary. Particularly in a post-COVID world, where healthcare organizations continue to recover financially, there is a lot of opportunity to simplify IT infrastructures and reduce corresponding costs.
Often, CTO’s and other health leaders to turn to the EHR to solve this problem which, depending upon the goal, may or may not be the right solution.
When is it time to make a change? What factors are there to consider? Where should you start? Try beginning with the following framework.
Understanding where to simplify begins with understanding all of the tools and technologies that make up your IT infrastructure. Categorize technologies wherever possible. This can help make clear where your organization is deploying the bulk of its IT budget, and where you might need more support. Additionally, it can help identify potential waste. More on this is #2.
With everything categorized, consider functionality – where does it overlap? For example, are you utilizing multiple solutions for patient experience? Do those solutions have differing functions? Is there opportunity for consolidation?
This consideration is rather obvious – you need to know the cost of each element of your IT infrastructure down to the individual solution level, including maintenance and upgrades required. The overall cost is valuable information but understanding what contributes to the sum is a crucial step in identifying where to simplify. You can’t weed out what you’re not aware of.
This step is perhaps the most important, but also often the most challenging – measuring results. To begin, IT leaders need to broadly engage internal stakeholders. Those utilizing the solutions on a day-to-day basis are the best equipped to speak to value and efficacy – in answering, “is the solution providing what it promised?”
Secondarily, in addition to this qualitative assessment, you also need to turn to the data. As the old saying goes, it’s impossible to improve what you can’t measure. If at the beginning of your partnership, the vendor promised the technology would help lower readmission rates… have you seen a decline? To the best of your ability, identify correlation vs. causation.
The cost of the solution may very well be necessary to continue spending if the return on investment is evident. On the flip side, if the solution isn’t yielding the expected results, it may be time for a change.
Where there is opportunity, there are solutions – particularly in the world of healthcare IT. One could even argue the health IT industry is oversaturated with solutions. However, those solutions are built to solve very real healthcare challenges and, often, are ready to help solve the problem organizations haven’t yet realized they are experiencing.
During your audit, where there may be areas of opportunity, its time to conduct market research. What other solutions exist to help solve the problem? To know whether you need to make a change requires knowing what else is out there.
Midwest Orthopaedics at Rush (MOR) performed a self-assessment and identified its investment in patient outcomes measurement as an area of opportunity – the cost of its patient outcomes platform was outweighing its benefit.
The question then became – can this be remedied? Do we need to continue investing in this kind of technology? Are other solutions better equipped to meet our needs?
Ultimately, the practice determined it needed to make a change.
In replacing its patient outcomes platform, the practice was able to realize $525K in cost-savings and improve clinical and operational outcomes. Read the case study for more information.