Non-EMR practice software is routinely touted as a solution for a problem that may not be yours. Here's what you need to know.
The concept of Return on Investment (ROI) is talked about by software vendors as if it has some universal meaning. This is true for population health, patient engagement, patient experience, and the ubiquitous increase revenues.
Confused? What on earth am I getting at?
It's more simple and direct once you take a more empirical approach.
Let's save ROI for last, because it is an empirical measure that can help to make a good decision. Let's start with population health.
Unless you have your own Accountable Care Organization (ACO) participating in a Medicare Shared Savings Program, commercial risk, or gainsharing program (let's call them "ACO participants"), you don't need to be fussing with population health, the ACO should. They should be providing those services and software tools to you for free, with training and support.
When it comes to patient engagement, there's one meaning for individual practices and another for ACO participants.
Patient engagement for individual practices is valuable, useful and inexpensive software that reminds patients of their appointments, confirms them, and reminds them again.
Patient engagement for ACO participants is much more extensive, including patient education and support targeted to specific chronic diseases. These are part of a more extensive program to manage chronic disease and co-morbidities to slow, stall, or reverse their progression. All ACO participants need to be using the same program in the same ways as paid for, provided, managed, and supported by the ACO.
Then, there is the nebulous "patient experience." Kind of like "fulfilling your compliance needs," just the term itself is banal and flat because no software is going to fix arrogance, negligence, hubris, self-importance, cluelessness or incompetence. But, software can amplify them.
Now, on to "increase revenues and reduce costs." None of the former are going to impact the latter unless one is a successful ACO participant.
If you are in a fee-for-service practice, you need business tools, support, and a transformation partner to maximize today's reimbursement system and to equip you for the value models coming in the near future, one aggressive increment at a time.
This brings us home to ROI.
ROI is not a benchmark, it is a comparator. Look at any purchase, including services and employees, using these tips.
Each is a machine that you put your money into. If you put in a dollar, it will return some amount in a period of time. A high return in a short time period is a good investment, provided that the machine will still be operational long after it has been paid off so that it can provide a consistent, profitable return.
Like anything, a consultant specializing in these things can provide one of the strongest returns on investment. Not because they can make things you buy work, but because they can ensure you purchase the right things, and use them to the greatest effect.
A simple rule of thumb is that if Medicare or a health plan does not see the value in paying or rewarding you to do something, especially sharing in savings, it has no value in the context of what you do.