October 5, 2015
“This change represents the most radical shift to healthcare in decades and will have far-reaching effects we cannot yet fully comprehend.”
Am I talking about the Affordable Care Act, or Meaningful Use / MIPS, or ICD-10? In fact, this is a quote from a hospital CEO in 1983 when speaking about DRGs.
While much is changing in health care and technology today — and often at light speed — change has been the one constant in our industry for many years. Now more than ever, healthcare decision makers must apply sufficient perspective to be pro-active — not reactive — to future change, in a well-planned fashion. Too often, especially in recent Meaningful Use / MIPS-focused times, organizations have over-compensated with quick and expensive decisions, creating negative rippling effects that have resulted in financial tsunamis. Unfortunately, in many hospitals, MU incentive dates have contributed to a slap and dash posture by some EHR vendors, as well as inadequate implementation planning, budgeting and staffing by hospitals. Major implementations rarely seem to deliver the anticipated value desired.
Yes, achieving Meaningful Use / MIPS and other federally imposed goals must be a priority. But for many hospitals, return on investments has gotten lost in the rush to meet deadlines. Let’s focus on the equally significant goal of IT investments – value.
Value such as reduction in readmission rates, strong support of patient quality and safety initiatives, and facilitation of population management, integrated care, and business analytics capabilities, matters enormously in our high stakes healthcare environment. In this year’s 2015 HIMSS Leadership Survey, 81 per cent of respondents indicated that IT was considered a highly strategic tool at their organization. Yet, despite the thousands of EHR purchases made in the last few years, in 2015 we are already seeing that many hospitals are not satisfied with their systems. The well-researched Peer60 2015 Healthcare Tech Purchasing survey, conducted earlier this year with a sample of 950 decision makers, indicates that EHR replacement is a skyrocketing market, with 27 percent of participants planning to replace their existing EHR, and 31 percent unsure that they will stick with their current vendor.
Spending another several million on another EHR may be the right thing for your hospital. But before those dollars wallop your budget, consider your options a bit longer than when you had just 18 months to land the organization’s first MU incentive paycheck.
In times past, a hospital Strategic Plan, flanked by a Hospital IT Strategic Plan were staples of solid management and informed investment. They typically reflected a five or seven year horizon, cost six figures to create, and ended up sitting on a bookshelf collecting dust. Today, the most successful organizations have 12 to 24 month strategic roadmaps – much quicker and less expensive to create, and far more flexible. Hospital roadmaps focus on healthcare business performance, shorter term remediation objectives, information technology enablers, and measurable outcomes. Strategic roadmaps reflect what hospitals need to do right now and how to optimize value — and are living documents that are both dynamic and renewable.
Hospitals and health systems that have been disappointed by the real-world results of their new systems may need to replace them — or they might consider optimization of their existing systems. Using a strategic roadmap as a systematic planning tool, hospitals can consider methods and mechanisms to assess and adjust existing systems by qualified professionals so that the patient experience is a front and center priority, not on the periphery. In many hospitals where post-incentive-check systems optimization projects have been well designed and skillfully undertaken, those unsatisfactory EHRs are now providing measurable business value. Strategically oriented IT staffs have succeeded in clearly aligning their EHRs with hospital business operating metrics, and provided for an overall financial return on investment that is predictable and validated. In some cases, renegotiation of original contracts to be more cost-effective also has been successful.
We are working today with hospitals that have interpreted the day-to-day dissatisfaction of physicians with their EHRs and high associated costs as unquestionable proof that something must change. But before we recommend spending another few million on something new, we are working with them to bring the concept of genuine IT value back into the mix of considerations. We recommend that you do the same.
To learn more about developing a strategic roadmap for your hospital, please contact us.