ROI: Look Beyond Financial to the Intangible Benefits

I was very heartened by a conclusion drawn at the recent HealthLeaders’ CFO Exchange. Apparently, these healthcare CFOs together reached the conclusion that ROI is more than financial.

A report from that roundtable specifically discussed the implementation and costs associated with Electronic Health Records (EHR). One of the CFOs said, “It’s hard or nearly impossible to justify the investment needed for a state-of-the-art EHR with hard-dollar savings.” He went on to point out that to really look at the return on investment: “You have to look beyond that to the intangible benefits, the improvements in delivery of care and positioning your organization to be competitive in the future.”

These CFOs were well-aware that “preparing for a successful future in the new era of population health management and value-based reimbursement models requires” sophisticated systems like EHRs, but achieving a return on such multi-million dollar investments is not easy if viewed in strictly monetary terms—the way many view or approach ROI.

The CFOs participating in the roundtable concluded that the value of EHR required looking beyond the bottom line, especially initially.

I was encouraged to hear this from CFOs because it echoes what we’ve heard again and again from supply chain managers in recent roundtables that we’ve facilitated: you have to invest in ways to change the way things are currently being done, in order to make a strategic transformation that offers a real return on investment in the future. In other words, you have to factor in the intangible benefits.

Perhaps as an industry, if we transform the way we think about ROI in general, we can deliver a better patient experience, improve the care we deliver and do so cost effectively. Those are tangible benefits.

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