As hospitals and health systems continue to be stretched thin by negative operating margins, competitive pressures, and workforce shortages, decision-makers must do more with less and make strategic software investments to reduce costs and increase efficiencies in both the short and long term. Decision-makers agree that now is not the time to pull back on software investment: according to research from Bain & Company, 45% of providers have increased their software investments over the past year, and 95% expect to make new software purchases in the coming year. The right healthcare software investment can be the difference between surviving challenging times and thriving during them.
Healthcare operations, or the nonclinical processes that help keep hospitals and health systems running, are one area where software investments can provide significant value. The shift from fee-for-services payment systems to value-based care requires healthcare institutions to consider the potential impact of any software investments on patient outcomes and operational efficiency. Health system decision-makers must ensure that new software investments simplify their existing operations and provide a return on investment (ROI). The right software investments will add value, optimize efficiencies, and drive key outcomes across the organization. However, measuring the value of a potential software investment can be complicated. Here are five questions to consider when making a healthcare software investment:
- Does the software fit within the current workflows and integrate with other systems or technologies across the organization?
A recent survey of 132 chief information officers (CIOs) at top U.S. health systems revealed that interoperability, or the ability of software to connect and exchange data with other organizational systems and software, is the number one priority of CIOs. The proliferation of point solutions for healthcare operations in the past decades has led to health systems having an excess of siloed, disconnected systems: 60% of Compass Survey respondents reported that their organization used 50+ software solutions for healthcare operations alone. These disconnected solutions create additional work for clinicians and staff, ultimately reducing efficiency and contributing to staff burnout and turnover. Healthcare decision-makers must consider the effect potential software investments will have on administrative burden and seek solutions that will integrate with the health system’s existing processes and technologies.
- Is the software user-friendly, time-saving, and easy to learn for clinicians and staff?
Recent data highlight the importance of investing in software that streamlines workflows and makes healthcare workers’ jobs easier, rather than adding additional administrative burden. According to the Compass Survey, 88% of CIOs find that working with disparate IT systems and applications complicates their job, and 84% said that having a streamlined IT structure was important in their ability to retain clinicians. The current shortage of healthcare workers in America necessitates that decision-makers do things differently. By investing in software with a human-centered design that reduces duplicative tasks and administrative burdens, health systems can improve employee satisfaction and efficiency and decrease burnout and turnover.
- Does the software address more than one process, specific problem, or challenge?
As we’ve established, many health systems have an excess of point solutions to manage their healthcare operations. To reduce costs, increase efficiency, and reduce the administrative burden created by mastering and utilizing these disparate systems, there is an urgent need to consolidate healthcare operations software and provide enterprise-level solutions for healthcare organizations. Investing in solutions that address multiple needs or challenges enables healthcare organizations to streamline and consolidate their operations and avoid adding another point solution to the pile. For example, an enterprise-level solution for healthcare operations that can address workforce management, provider data management, compliance and safety, and more.
- Does the software have the necessary security and regulatory compliance measures in place to protect patient and staff data?
Security is a must when it comes to healthcare software—the most cost-effective and efficient software in the world is worthless if it leaves your organization at risk of costly compliance and security violations. Healthcare operations software can help organizations assess risk, mitigate regulatory penalties, and prevent cybersecurity and patient privacy breaches, ultimately protecting both the patients and the organizations’ data.
- Are the projected ROI and long-term costs associated with the software, including maintenance, updates, and support clear?
Finally, it goes without saying that health systems want to invest in solutions with demonstrated financial value. While a leap of faith might sometimes pay off, investing in solutions with a positive track record, customer testimonials, and proven ROI is the best way to ensure your investment is well-placed.
Invest in Key Healthcare Outcomes
The adoption of human-centered healthcare software that is built on a standardized enterprise-level architecture will ultimately help healthcare organizations reduce costs, improve clinician retention, mitigate risk, and optimize patient outcomes and experiences. The best software investments are ones that deliver financial value through improved efficiency and efficacy while causing the least disruption. By focusing on the impact potential software investments will have on financial health, administrative burden, and organizational risk, hospitals and health systems can improve employee satisfaction while containing costs, enabling them to thrive amid existential pressures and continue providing quality patient care.
About Brian Fugere
As Chief Product Officer at symplr, the leading enterprise healthcare operations company, Brian Fugere leads all product management and user experience (UX) design efforts, corporate strategy, and cross-functional go-to-market alignment. During the past two years, he also served as symplr’s Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) and led the engineering organization. Bringing almost 30 years of go-to-market experience in software companies of all sizes, Fugere was previously the CMO of Virence Health, a carveout from GE Healthcare.