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There’s been a flurry of activity to implement systems that are required for healthcare entities to meet Meaningful Use (MU) requirements. With the implicit focus on achieving MU, and avoiding the consequences of not meeting those requirements, healthcare organizations may not focus on the additional potential capabilities of these systems. Healthcare information and electronic health records systems can, if utilized to their full extent, provide time savings, labor savings, paper savings and yes, even cost savings, ultimately delivering a return on the investment. But, are healthcare organizations getting that ROI? And, is achieving ROI even a factor?

If hospitals are not focusing on both MU and ROI, why aren’t they? Typically, to realize the full potential of time, labor and cost-saving applications, there’s a process that needs to be followed, which means the users need to modify how they do things. Software is never a “solution,” it’s a tool which requires a different process from when things were done manually (or via less sophisticated means). But, just because a software tool can make tasks better and easier doesn’t mean that people are going to use it or use it fully.  Humans are naturally resistant to change, and it’s inconvenient to change how they do things.

The process of moving from paper to electronic records has required tremendous effort. A long period of transition has been involved. However, anything that promises a beneficial return, whether it’s in terms of meeting government requirements or improving the bottom line, is going to prove to be useful.

If there’s a lack of enforcement and oversight regarding technology usage, people are going to stay with or slip back into what’s comfortable. The only way to increase efficiency or obtain ROI is by getting users to accept changing workflow processes. Ultimately, they should use the software tool completely, not half-way. Even if a healthcare organization’s goal with implementing technology is solely justified by improving patient care, that improvement is not going to be fully realized if the technology’s potential is not fully realized as well.

Healthcare information systems provide a number of applications – provider order management, etc. —and tremendous capabilities, but oftentimes, not all applications and capabilities are being used or used in an optimized manner. With specific applications that promise a big ROI, users need to identify the best practices and understand the process to follow to have that ROI come to fruition.

So, the question is: Are you realizing the full value of your technology? Do you understand all its benefits and ROI? Perhaps you do, but there’s the challenge of getting your staff to change what they’ve been doing and fully adopt it in order for your organization to fully realize that ROI. How much does ROI matter to you today? Please tell us your thoughts!

Arthur Young

Arthur Young is a visionary healthcare information systems entrepreneur who has focused Interbit Data’s offerings on providing secure and reliable methods of connecting users with HCIS information. Prior to founding Medical Systems Solutions (the precursor to Interbit Data) in 1997, Arthur spent 10 years with MEDITECH and three years at JJWild.