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Amid Economic Uncertainty, Health Systems Prioritize ROI

By evaluating the potential of healthcare operations software investments to affect each of these three key outcomes areas — patient outcomes, workforce outcomes, and risk and compliance outcomes — CIOs can make informed decisions that drive value and improve outcomes for patients, providers, and the entire organization. 

The recent economic downturn and decreased hospital margins have proven that healthcare is not recession-proof. In order to move from surviving to thriving, healthcare organizations today need to overcome existential threats posed by unprecedented financial, workforce, competitive, regulatory and operational pressures. As a result, hospitals and health systems must approach healthcare operations differently, do more with less, and make informed investments in technology that will provide the greatest return on investment (ROI).

Software spending holds steady despite decreased margins

While healthcare organizations are looking for ways to reduce spending in response to workforce shortages and macroeconomic turbulence, many are maintaining or even increasing their software investments to streamline and optimize processes. A Fall 2022 Bain & Company report found that more than 95% of providers expected to make new software investments this year, with 35% planning to increase their software spend to create productivity and efficiency improvements in response to margin and labor pressures.

Healthcare operations, the systems and processes that keep health systems running, is a key area where organizations are investing to reduce costs and optimize workforce efficiency. A recent survey of 132 chief information officers (CIOs) at top U.S. health systems found that the majority of hospitals surveyed had over 50 distinct software solutions for healthcare operations alone. This excess of disparate solutions can exacerbate staff burnout and workforce shortages, with 88% of respondents agreeing that “working with disparate IT systems and applications complicates my job” and 84% saying that a streamlined IT infrastructure is an important factor in their ability to retain clinicians. Implementing a clinician-centered technology design can help health systems thrive amid financial and workforce pressures by mitigating staffing shortages and empowering clinicians to practice at the top of their licenses.

Focus on ROI and enterprise solutions

When it comes to making technology investment decisions, health systems are prioritizing solutions that offer a high ROI yet which are protective and respective of clinician and staff time that is better spent on patient care. Health system CIOs must make smart, financially sound software investments that will enable them to streamline and automate processes to optimize effectiveness, reduce burnout due to administrative burdens, and increase retention. It’s more important than ever for CIOs to carefully evaluate each potential technology and software investment and select those solutions with demonstrated ROI.

Adopting an enterprise healthcare operations solution that unifies the management of workforce, provider data, suppliers and contracts, and compliance, quality, and safety is key to streamlining tech stacks, simplifying vendor management, and improving ROI across the enterprise. By adopting technology built on standardized, enterprise-level architecture, health systems can create a more human-centered technology infrastructure that delivers high value while minimizing or eliminating workflow disruption.

Additionally, as more health systems transition to a value-based care model, predicting and measuring the impact of new technologies on patient outcomes and operational efficiency will become even more critical. Healthcare organizations will need to make strategic investment decisions to provide high-quality care while keeping costs down. To do this, organizations must adopt software solutions that track measures and incentives for value-based care and payment.

Evidence-based software purchases that drive outcomes

In technology and software investment, value and evidence have become both the pursuit and the payoff, mandating that health system CIOs demonstrate ROI of potential investments to inform the decision-making process. While there’s no one-size-fits-all method to identify the right software for your organization, there are a few key areas that CIOs may want to consider to determine which investments will provide the most value for their organization’s unique needs:

  • Patient outcomes: When deciding what software to invest in, decision-makers should consider both the cost savings and the potential impact on clinical outcomes. The best solutions will provide both financial and clinical benefits driven by operational improvements.
  • Workforce outcomes: The right software can help increase employee efficiency and satisfaction, leading to decreased burnout and improved retention.
  • Risk and compliance outcomes: Decision-makers should also assess a solution’s ability to help their organization assess risk, protect organizational reputation, and reduce the potential for regulatory penalties and cybersecurity breaches.

—With the right software investments, healthcare organizations can thrive rather than just survive in uncertain economic times and focus on providing the highest quality of patient care.

Picture: Warchi, Getty Images

BJ Schaknowski, CEO of symplr, is a seasoned software industry executive with more than 25 years of experience in leadership roles across a wide variety of operating functions. A Marine Corps veteran, he has worked for Vertafore, LexisNexis Software Solutions, CA Technologies, Intuit, and Sage Software.

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