Set a Timer on Financial Return for Software Investment

What’s the biggest capital budget problem in a health system? Too many requests and not enough money. As a result, healthcare spending decisions—on technology, software, and equipment—require answers to two key questions: 

  1. How big will the return on investment (ROI) be for a given amount spent? 
  2. How soon will that return be realized?  

Soaring software investment 

Healthcare organizations may be pulling back from spending, but not when it comes to software that adds immediate value. In the face of workforce shortages and macroeconomic turbulence, they’re looking to technology and software to streamline and optimize processes. In fact, in the next year, more than 95% of providers expect to make new software investments, with one-third planning significant new investments. Roughly 35% of providers say that because of the current environment, they plan to spend more than usual over the next 12 months as they seek productivity and efficiency improvements to address rising margin pressure and labor tightening.  

Similarly, the recent symplr Compass Survey of 132 chief information officers (CIOs) at top U.S. health systems uncovered motivations to expand software investment: 

  • 88% of CIO respondents agree with the statement, “working with disparate IT systems and applications complicates my job” 
  • 84% of respondents said having a streamlined IT infrastructure is important in their ability to retain clinicians 

Health system CIOs are all too familiar with the growing pressure to make smart, financially sound investments in software. With limited resources and increasing demands, however, it's more important than ever to carefully evaluate the potential value of each software solution. In other words, demonstrate the ROI and set a timer on the financial return, or don’t expect the investment to be approved. It’s one reason more health systems are streamlining their tech stacks and adopting an enterprise healthcare operations solution that unifies the management of the workforce, provider data, suppliers and contracts, access, and compliance, quality, and safety.  

Value-based care and hospital software purchasing  

In a value-based care environment, CIOs must consider not only the upfront costs of a software solution, but also its potential impact on measures such as patient outcomes and operational efficiency. The shift to value from fee-for-services payment systems requires healthcare institutions to become low-cost, high-value providers.   

To be included in networks, providers will need to transform and prove value, demonstrating that they can deliver high quality, evidence-based care while managing or reducing the cost of care. And they must be able to do this not only when delivering episodic care, but also show that they can manage population health in a cost-effective manner. Software that tracks the new measures and incentives for value-based care and value-based payment is imperative.  

Integrated software offers productivity and efficiency gains 

Another source of pressure in healthcare operations is the proliferation of point solutions that has occurred in health systems over the past few decades. A patchwork of siloed and disconnected systems burdens clinicians and staff and contributes to burnout and turnover. CIOs must carefully consider whether a new software solution will add value or simply add to the pile.   

There's a long way to go to solve this issue: The symplr Compass Survey found that 60% of hospitals and health systems use 50+ software solutions for healthcare operations alone. symplr found that future priorities and needs for healthcare organizations will include investment in healthcare operations with an emphasis on automation and interoperability. Improving interoperability (26%) and workforce management (23%) will be the top areas of focus for health system executives.   

Adoption of technology that is built on standardized, enterprise-level architecture to provide automation and data-driven insights will ultimately drive down costs, avoid risks, and improve the patient experience. Providers and healthcare systems will lean toward a human-centered approach to technology infrastructure that delivers value, causes the least disruption, and produces better outcomes for all, symplr found. In other words, there's never been a better time to invest in enterprise-wide solutions to connect and streamline healthcare operations. 

Tying a software purchase to outcomes and evidence 

To demonstrate the value in any software investment, CIOs must show that prioritizing the importance of high-quality data will drives improved outcomes across the organization. The right software can help collect, analyze, and use data in a meaningful way to inform decision making and drive continuous improvement as a vehicle to deliver value. So how can CIOs measure the value of a software investment? Here are a few key factors to consider: 

Patient outcomes: Financial-based measures such as cost savings and improved efficiency can be important indicators of value. But don't forget to also consider clinical outcomes driven by operational improvements and increased access to care.  

Clinical staff impact: The right software can help reduce burnout, increase employee efficacy, and improve retention and overall satisfaction among clinical staff.  

Risk reduction: Software can play a role in assessing risk, mitigating regulatory penalties or lawsuits, protecting the organization’s reputation, and stemming cybersecurity and patient privacy breaches.  

By carefully evaluating healthcare operations software investments through these lenses, CIOs can make informed decisions that drive value and improve outcomes for patients, providers, and the organization.  

Start with our 15-second software value analysis   

If you’re researching software solutions to address a burning operational challenge, here are a few questions to help you drive value as you consider a software investment:  

  1. The vendor has a record of accomplishment in the healthcare industry.  YES / NO  
  2. Software as a service is supplied and the software is scalable to meet changing organizational needs.  YES / NO 
  3. The software has the necessary security and regulatory compliance measures in place to protect patient data.  YES / NO 
  4. The software addresses/solves more than one process, specific problem, or challenge.  YES / NO 
  5. The software fits within the current workflows of the organization.  YES / NO 
  6. The software integrates with other systems or technologies across the organization.  YES / NO 
  7. The long-term costs associated with the software, including maintenance, updates, and support, are clear.  YES / NO 
  8. The software is user-friendly for clinicians and staff and doesn’t require significant training or downtime.  YES / NO 
  9. The vendor supplies the necessary level of customer support.  YES / NO 
  10. The vendor supplies a clear ROI of the software for our organization.  YES / NO 

In short, consider your purchase’s effects on financial health, patient-centric care, ability to ensure effective communication, and technological consolidation to avoid data risks while containing costs. Try our value calculators today to instantly generate your custom ROI report for healthcare operations software solutions.  

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