Investing in Healthcare Technology

A successful software investment should noticeably enrich a medical practice. Improvements can include a decrease in work time, a decrease in the costs of certain resources, a reduction in data errors, a minimization of losses of healthcare information, HIPAA compliance and an increase in employee job satisfaction. The ultimate benefit of a new system can be measured as either tangible or intangible but whichever is most important to an organization, it is important for the buyer to know the specific returns before a purchase agreement is signed.

One of the first things to look for when acquiring a new technology is the reduction in time for performing a particular routine task. For example, the average time to review a patient exam with Cardea Technology’s BoneStation is approximately two thirds shorter than without using an automated review function. In a bone density office where the average patient visit volume is high – approximately 6600 exams per year – a practice gains more than an hour and a half per day when using BoneStation to review patient exams.

A second benefit to look for is a decrease in the costs of tangible resources, an important result of the change to electronic data management. Some of these reductions include elimination of printing costs for paper copies of reports for practices that use email and electronic report transmission, an increase in the life and availability of printing resources and a reduction in the cost of envelopes and postage to mail reports to recipients. Additionally the physical storage space for filing cabinets is reduced and the time needed to pull patient medical charts is eliminated. For high volume practices, the savings add up to more than $20/day when 100% of reports are distributed electronically.

An inevitable factor of acquiring new technology is a reduction in the number of specialists needed to perform routine tasks. For example, a reporting solution like BoneStation replaces the need for an outsourced specialist to transcribe patient reports. This savings can amount to anywhere from $20K to $60K per year, depending on the length of dictated reports and the type of service used. Eliminating the need to locate and re-file patient charts provides more time for other tasks.

A last tangible benefit is the decrease in data errors that reduces the time and cost of resolving medical errors and possible malpractice claims. The Institute of Medicine estimates that medical errors cost the United States approximately $37.6 billion each year and about $17 billion of those costs are associated with preventable errors. A decrease in costs due to data loss can amount to thousands of dollars each year. BoneStation’s data is saved and backed up on a secure server regularly, greatly reducing the risk of lost data typically stored on CDs and other degradable, non-stationary media.

In addition to purely financial returns, there are also several intangible, yet important benefits to keep in mind when deciding to purchase a new technology. Due to better availability of patient health information, physicians and practices are able to make better decisions about patient health care. Increased staff morale is created from using state of the art tools that make it easier to do their jobs. Physicians gain greater autonomy by being able to work remotely. Faster production and delivery of exam results to recipients facilitates faster turnaround time for reimbursement and the commencement of medical treatment. Conveniently organized access to patient reports may also result in a reduction of unpaid Medicare and Medicaid claims.

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One Response to “Investing in Healthcare Technology”

  1. Gerard Szatvanyi Says:

    That is a very interesting topic. Actually, Gartner analysts predict that, by 2009, healthcare investments in IT will increase by more than 50 percent, which could enable clinicians to reduce the level of preventable deaths by 50 percent by 2013. Of course, nowadays most healthcare organizations have already invested in IT outsourcing, for anything from Telco and Wireless, to Application Data Development (i.e. LIMS, SOA), or even Business Process Management.
    We’ve put together a detailed white paper on these subjects: http://www.outsourcing-factory.com/en/stay-informed/white-papers/outsourcing-healthcare.html . What is your experience with IT outsourcing in healthcare? Are these figures close to your personal experience or do you think there are certain issues we’ve missed covering? I strongly appreciate your professional opinions.


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