Hospital execs slow to measure technology ROI

By Mike Miliard
10:58 AM

Most healthcare C-suite members are dissatisfied with their organizations' efforts to measure return-on-investment from clinical IT systems, according to a new report from Beacon Partners.

The survey, "Finding the ROI in Clinical IT Systems," polled more than 300 healthcare executives, including CEOs, CIOs, CMIOs and CFOs. Beacon Partners, a healthcare management consulting firm, sought to analyze how hospitals and care delivery organizations use clinical system performance measures as a way to calculate the ROI of electronic medical record (EMR) systems.

Most respondents said their organizations didn't measure the overall success of their EMR systems, according to the study. It found that ROI is generally not the primary reason for performance measures, which are usually gauged by organizations' quality management and IT departments. The majority of executives were dissatisfied with efforts to measure ROI in their IT clinical systems, the survey found.

Some 40 percent of C-suite respondents said they're using performance measures, according to the report, but just 36 percent said they're satisfied with the extent to which the data is used to measure the value brought to their organization

A majority (78 percent) of providers collect feedback from physicians and nurses to measure their satisfaction, and that data is then put to use for initiatives such as planning for system enhancements and improvements (60 percent) and determining training and/or support needs (55 percent), according to Beacon Partners.

But beyond tracking requirements for meaningful use incentive or other government regulations, fewer than half of providers went beyond keeping tabs on their IT systems' quality metrics to focus on areas related directly to ROI, the report shows.

"Often, the limited resources and hurried deadlines associated with EMR implementation preclude a thoughtful, strategic analysis of expected value for the substantial sums invested in clinical IT," the study's authors write.

Notwithstanding the fact that clinical IT systems are extraordinarily expensive, and are often the most costly projects provider organizations will pursue, hospital execs have mostly been slow to set up strategic measures to track the value obtained from IT investments, the study concluded.

“Our primary goal in conducting this survey was to get a better understanding of how healthcare organizations – including multi-hospital systems, community hospitals and academic medical centers feel about their organization’s efforts to measure the value obtained from investments in healthcare information technology,” said Alan Cudney, executive consultant at Beacon Partners.

“We hope that this survey will provide insight into the challenges of measuring ROI and drive executives to collect and evaluate valuable data from their systems and feedback from their employees to maximize returns on their strategic programs,” he said.

Read the report here.