The ROI of Patient Engagement Technology: Look at Value

Bob Abrahamson, Chief Marketing Officer pCare

Growing Value imagery

Sales Rep: “What do we have showing ROI? The prospect will not move forward unless we can show them a positive ROI in the near term.”
Me: “Well, there is the case study that shows a corresponding decrease in readmits six months after implementation.”
Sales Rep: “That’s not good enough. We need outcomes data and dollars.”
Me: *heavy sigh*

As a healthcare marketeer, for the variety of companies I’ve had the pleasure to work for – from content, to analytics, to engagement tech – there has always been the ask to prove ROI; to justify the investment. There are ebbs and flows regarding urgency. But when economic headwinds start to impact margins and every dollar spent is put under the microscope, the ROI question becomes more prominent. Such is the case now.

In today’s healthcare landscape featuring evolving consumerism, hospitals and health systems are constantly seeking ways to improve patient experience while confronting staffing challenges and increasing costs. One of the more promising avenues for achieving results while also addressing the staffing issues is through the implementation of patient engagement technology. These new platforms bring the promise of improving patient experience and staff satisfaction. But in an era where margin pressures are impacting every decision, how can hospitals justify the spend? We need to delve into the intricacies of calculating the ROI for the patient engagement technology spend.

While Return on Investment can be calculated on metrics of cost savings or revenue generation, it can be more helpful to look at more subjective Value of Investment (VOI) metrics associated with deployment of patient engagement solutions. This is due to the nature and challenges of capturing transaction data from the engagement technology alongside data from the EHR regarding outcomes, length of stay, time tracking, plus data from third party systems (HCAHPS for example) and then developing accurate attribution models.

Consider the Revenue Boost of Patient Loyalty

Investing in patient loyalty is money well spent. According to a study cited in Becker’s Hospital Review, the lifetime value (LTV) of a loyal patient is estimated at $1.4 million. This figure underscores the importance of fostering patient loyalty through positive experiences. Factors driving loyalty include:

     • Acceptance of insurance

     • Previous positive experiences with the hospital

     • Convenient hospital location

     • Quality of doctors, nurses, and staff

     • Compassionate and personalized care

It is not a stretch to consider how patient engagement technology can impact those factors. An interactive patient care system (IPS) that leverages television infrastructure for entertainment, education, and empowerment favorably impacts the hospital experience. Leveraging data from the EHR and allowing patients to use devices of their choice, providing content in native languages, or providing one-click access to translation services help drive personalized, compassionate care.  Tools that enhance patient/provider collaboration and allow staff to practice at the top of their license enhance the quality of care.

Patient engagement technology can be part of the plan to drive long term loyalty. Yet calculating the ROI for that spend is tricky. How much of that $1.44M dollars can be confidently attributed to the technology? How do you separate out the technology lift from the benefits being delivered by staff throughout the facility not to mention benefits driven by other HIT? It’s best and fair to consider the value delivered by the technology measured in feedback surveys, utilization metrics, and other factors as opposed to assigning hard dollars.

Consider the Cost Avoidance from Efficiency Gains

Patient engagement technology can improve operational efficiencies while helping mitigate cost. For instance:

     • Patient education can reduce the length of hospital stays by 25%.1

     • Nurses can save between 10-16% of their time by delegating tasks.2

     • Non-monetary recognition programs have an 80% effectiveness rate in positively impacting staff retention.3

Furthermore, patients who understand their aftercare instructions are 30% less likely to be readmitted4, leading to reduced penalties for hospitals.

A comprehensive patient engagement system can impact all those areas. For example, the pCare IPS can be configured to allow patients to order meals, adjust lighting and shades, place service requests – all of which speak to the benefit of saving nurse time by delegating tasks. Integration with DAISY has increased patient participation in this nurse recognition program. But to illustrate the challenge of quantifying ROI, we can look at the impact of patient education.

The Einstein Healthcare Network in Philadelphia has reported on the value their pCare implementation delivered in the realm of education. With the pCare IPS in place, Einstein was able to enhance existing education programs with a suite of diabetes education videos including one internally produced program. Einstein did not have tracked outcomes data available to show that pCare-educated patients experienced reduced readmissions. Yet, the team was confident that via systemic delivery of Diabetes education, patients were better prepared to manage their health and staff felt more confident in the level of care provided during the admission. This was a great value driver for Einstein in the absence of hard ROI data.

Answering the ROI Question

Most patient engagement systems implemented anywhere across the continuum capture a large amount of transaction data. pCare welcomes the opportunity to design a study to help quantify a hard ROI. This will involve effort amongst all stakeholders. Depending on staffing and priorities, it can be challenging to execute. When that is the case, there is still opportunities to identify value drivers that can provide a valid rationale for the new technology implementation. It is a matter of coming to agreement on metrics and tracking the KPIs, but it may be an easier lift than data extraction and building accurate attribution models. Simple surveys of patient and staff, launched from the IPS for patients or as part of leadership rounding for staff, can validate the value lift of patient engagement technology. The experience lift for patients from empowerment tools like meal ordering and placing service requests to job satisfaction delivered to staff relieved of low-level tasks like manually updating dry erase boards or receiving a documentation assist in the EHR create value for all stakeholders if not hard ROI numbers.

Investing in patient engagement technology is not just about the immediate financial returns. It’s about fostering a culture of care collaboration – improving outcomes and experience for patients and families while improving efficiency and job satisfaction for staff.  By understanding the tangible and intangible benefits, hospitals can make informed decisions and ensure they achieve a positive VOI, if not hard ROI, on their patient engagement technology investments.


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