Investing in information systems is a costly endeavor and everyone involved asks the same question, “What will the return on investment be?” It’s no different in healthcare, and in the world of meaningful use, ROI is not discussed in terms of dollars but rather value to the organization in how these systems improve their ability to deliver on expectations or outcomes.
The data gathered by information systems, clinical, financial or operational has no real dollar value. And until that data is transformed into the information that causes someone to do something different, the economic change is meaningless.
In his blog for Information Management, Rob Karel posted an important observation on the subject. Continuing to emphasize the dollar value of system’s data leads to no real value and may mislead the prospective user away from the opportunities to realize significant returns on their investments.
In healthcare, we are data rich, even in rehabilitation we collect more data in a month that most business collect in a year. Transforming that data into actionable processes to improve performance requires analytics. For example, consider all the documentation performed to comply with CMS and insurance requirements in order to get paid. We currently audit this information and its process without ever asking the questions about the effectiveness of that care provided; with analysis we may find not only answers about effectiveness but the possibilities of alternative modes and methods to improve both effectiveness and efficiency. And that is where the ROI of IT investments show their dollar value. But, that takes meaningful use and the healthcare industry is just starting to figure out what that means.
Reference: Karel, Rob. Stop Trying to Put a Monetary Value on Data – It’s the Wrong Path. March 30, 2011