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Determining the ROI of Clinical Care Technology

HFMA

03/18/2016

Can you imagine life without your smart phone? Besides keeping you in touch with family and friends, it puts vast amounts of information at your fingertips. It lets you pay bills and book flights in mere seconds. It can even help you find your way home when you’re lost. For many, it’s hard to put a dollar amount on the ROI of such a device. The same is true of healthcare technology. Using a wide range of applications and systems, providers can make more informed decisions, take quicker action, and achieve desired results.

 
Although everyone would agree technology improves the quality of health care, few know the best way to measure and monitor its performance. The question becomes: How can a health system truly calculate the specific clinical and operational value of technology investments?
 
Shifting to a New Mindset
Determining ROI for clinical systems is an ongoing challenge. Many of the benefits these technologies deliver are notoriously difficult to measure. And with the shift to value-based care, providers need even more metrics—many of them also hard to quantify—to support systemwide efforts to improve quality, lower costs, and enhance the patient experience.
 
By casting a broader net to encompass both hard dollar and soft metrics, such as care coordination and quality, an organization can achieve a more complete ROI measurement that better meets its needs.
 
Implementing Clinical Care Technologies
One example of an organization taking this broader approach to ROI is Wilmington, N.C.-based Coastal Connect Health Information Exchange (CCHIE). A not-for-profit health information network covering more than 4.42 million patients, CCHIE connects 249 ambulatory practices, health departments and federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) to a role-based query application. This connectivity gives members access to clinical documents including lab and radiology results, transcriptions, and care summaries from 81 acute and ambulatory data contributors.
 
Over the past three years, CCHIE has successfully deployed a number of clinical technologies, including applications to:
 
Integrate the CCHIE network directly with physician’s electronic health records (EHRs)
  • Deliver more than 30,000 lab and radiology results and transcribed reports from hospitals to physicians per month
  • Enable electronic referrals from an acute to ambulatory setting
  • Provide real-time admission, discharge, transfer (ADT) notifications to primary care physicians, orthopedics, home health agencies and pediatricians to enable timely follow-up care
These technologies are designed to help improve efficiency in patient care workflow, provide access to community-wide health records at the point of care, reduce unnecessary tests and procedures, and improve information flow from acute care to post-acute and long-term care.
 
With these new technologies in place, CCHIE participants can search for patient summaries, access community-based records, receive alerts of acute care events, confirm follow-up appointments, and receive lab and radiology results. In addition to strengthening care coordination, these efforts have enabled CCHIE to increase efficiencies and better position its members for a value-based future.
 
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