by Darcey Trescone, RN
Are you getting the ROI you thought you would?
If you are presently using software or looking for new software, you must do an ROI analysis.
Most agencies utilize only 20% of the actual features available within their software, leaving 80% lying fallow in the field, according to TechRepublic, "10 Ways to Improve the ROI of Your Software", Oct 14, 2014. In addition, the longer an agency utilizes an EMR system, the higher the percentage of un-utilized features there will be. In my consulting practice, I see agencies all the time that only keep up with the minimum maintenance and training offered by their EMR vendor. Understanding where you are experiencing operational inefficiencies and discussing these with your vendor could save you money and ensure better continual ROI.
Of course, there are those situations where it is unavoidably time to call it quits with your vendor. Even if you are on the hunt for a new EMR system, understanding where your inefficiencies are will better prepare you to make an educated purchasing decision.
Understanding your ROI, even on a simple level, brings many benefits your agency.
Step 1 – Efficiency Evaluation
Every functional area within your agency should look at its processes and daily workflow to determine the amount of time required to maintain these practices, focusing on areas that are both lacking efficiencies but have high quality and have the potential for improved quality.
Low hanging fruit in this analysis is manual processes and paper. Seek out spreadsheets, log books, manually calculated KPI’s, extra phone calls, repeat emails, avoidable trips to the office and unnecessary time spent looking for information. You are likely to discover that, though you may be delivering high quality, you are doing it with a higher operational cost to your organization if these inefficient tools are in widespread use.
Your employees within each functional area can point you to additional inefficiencies...if you ask. Three simple questions will kick off the discussion 1) What is the process in your area? 2) Where do you see inefficiencies and frustrations? 3) What do we need in the software to make your life easier? A wealth of information can be discovered in these interviews.
As a simple, hypothetical example, still all too common, Agency X found an estimated savings of 44 hours spent on manual processes after working with its vendor. The intake and insurance verification process required an inordinate amount of human intervention to maintain spreadsheets and send multiple emails about new patients. Scheduling was relatively efficient, but the scheduler was making multiple phone calls to track down clinicians. Timekeeping and payroll were manual, absorbing another 12 hours every week. Clinicians were still collecting paper consents, and this was creating at least one or two trips a week to the office, per clinician, for no other purpose than to drop off paperwork. The agency had outstanding billing due to unsigned orders and had stopped using its EMR system to manage order tracking, which added more manual spreadsheets and labor intensive tracking to the week.
Step 2 – Cost of Investment
You must know your yearly cost to purchase and maintain your EMR software system. Many vendors in our industry now offer a monthly subscription fee that remains somewhat consistent throughout your contract. It is important to understand any costs in addition to your subscription fees, such as vendor provided services, hardware and internal labor to maintain the system.
Step 3 – Gain from Investment
Understand your inefficiencies and what you would like to change with your EMR usage. Discuss these with your vendor to determine what functionality may already be available to assist you. Evaluate all new offerings from your vendor. If you were to put these features in place, what efficiencies would you gain in labor, costs, timeliness, and quality? It is important to quantify the estimated savings of these efficiencies prior to making a decision on what software solution or functionality to deploy.
Back to our earlier example, Agency X found 44 hours in saved time, which to them equated to about $50,000 in labor per year that could be spent on more productive activities. If their EMR costs them $38,000 per year, using the ROI calculation, they should get about a 32% ROI from their existing system by deploying the under-utilized functionality that was already there in their software. Once that functionality is in place, Agency X will need to measure the actual savings to ensure they have achieved their expected ROI.
In conclusion, a cliché, repeated so often because it is true: "You can't manage what you don't measure." ROI analysis is typically discussed when purchasing a system, but it is absolutely necessary to go through the exercise on a yearly basis as well to ensure your investment in your EMR software continues to provide you the returns you expect.
Darcey Trescone is a Healthcare IS and Business Development Consultant in the Post-Acute Healthcare Market with a strong background working with both providers and vendors specific to Home Care and Hospice. She has worked as a home health nurse and held senior operational, product management and business development positions with various post-acute software firms, where her responsibilities included new and existing market penetration, customer retention and oversight of teams across the U.S., Canada and Australia. She can be reached at email@example.com.
©2018 by Rowan Consulting Associates, Inc., Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared in Tim Rowan's Home Care Technology Report. homecaretechreport.com One copy may be printed for personal use; further reproduction by permission only. firstname.lastname@example.org