How to do it... Information technology

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A claims game
A claims game

The process of buying an information technology system can be one of the most challenging purchasing experiences for a provider. Here, experts advise how top managers and building leaders can persuade owners, boards of directors and others who control the checkbook to sign off on a major IT acquisition. 

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A little math could provide you with all the argument fodder you might need.

“Very rarely will you find someone not impressed by ROI [return on investment],” says PointClickCare's Mike Wessinger. “That's important. The large for-profit companies find it really tough to sell the board and shareholders on making an investment based on quality of care, so they're usually making justification on ROI.”

Wessinger says “payback” for a system investment can come as quickly as 12.7 months after an initial purchase. Other clients have found even quicker break-even points, he adds.

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It's wise to emphasize what residents would gain from better IT, several experts note.

“You're really returning [care] time to the residents,” Wessinger says. “You could be giving two FTEs (full-time equivalent workers) back to the resident with more efficient processes. You're not sending them home, and you're capturing more reimbursement because things are not falling through the cracks.”

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The effects on staff cannot be underestimated, says Aaron Brandwein, vice president of sales and marketing for HealthMEDX:

“Duplicate systems, with duplicate resident records, are no longer needed with the information technology now available to long-term care. There's been a large amount of time wasted by staff searching numerous systems and charts for all the necessary information.”

IT also will help alleviate turnover costs due to higher worker satisfaction and easier training processes, Brandwein notes.

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As the government further refines payment systems, it will be critical for providers to document better than ever before, Brandwein continues. “As the industry makes large steps toward pay-for-performance, proper documentation of all care provided is critical,” he notes.

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Other than topics al-ready mentioned, higher-ups also can “be sold” on the value of IT guaranteeing compliance with present and future regulations, says Jim Ingalls, director of sales for Keane Care.

“We know certified systems for electronic health records are a reality for hospitals and that long-term care is next in line,” he reasons. “By easing into an EMR now, you'll have the heart of the EHR already in place instead of waiting to do it all at once.”

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Emphasizing any characteristics that will boost productivity and efficiency will help immensely, says Les Mackie, director of communications for GiftRAP Corporation. These include everything from regulatory compliance to Part B Cap Management to PPS efficiency and RUG optimization.

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Finding the most tech- savvy person on the board of directors and selling an idea to him or her is a good idea. “If you have a hard-nosed board without that visionary, and you need the big money for that type of investment, that can be hard,” notes Randy Kirk, executive vice president and chief technology officer for Direct Supply. A “very clear ROI argument” always comes in handy, he adds.

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Some of the most convincing information providers can use to persuade top management would be ROI figures, agrees Polly Kirkwood vice president for sales for MDI Achieve.

“Unfortunately, it can be difficult to quantify hard numbers, but depending on the type of IT solution being considered, the financial impact can be more noticeable than you think,” Kirkwood explains.

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It is also critical to address any specific “pain points” that currently exist in a provider's organization in order to demonstrate to top management how the new technology could resolve or at least improve these areas, Kirkwood advises.

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