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Solving health care’s financial burden amid economic uncertainty

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Leaders look to software for solutions that will lead to better patient care.

Current financial pressures such as rising inflation, diminishing reimbursements, and increased supply and labor expenses are impacting budgetary strategies across the health care industry. As health care organizations evaluate new cost-containment measures, evidence shows that investments in software are accelerating and will continue to in 2023. According to new research from Bain & Company and KLAS Research, 45% of health care providers increased software investments over the past year, with more expected to boost tech-related spending to alleviate cost pressures. Furthermore, health care information technology (HCIT) spending is currently a top-three strategic priority for 40% and a top-five priority for 80% of provider organizations.

One area where decision-makers are increasingly investing is health care operations-related software to streamline services and increase the productivity of overworked staff. Research indicates that over the next year, 95% of providers expect to make new software purchases, as opposed to investing in corporate offices, medical and surgical supplies, patient monitoring equipment, waste management systems, or electronic medical records. Specifically, health care organizations are looking for solutions that improve productivity and reduce labor spending. These health care operations solutions focus on automating administrative tasks, integrating and standardizing operational efficiencies, and improving workforce productivity, retention, and clinical outcomes. The increasing investment in these solutions provides evidence that health care operations significantly impact the overall financial health of a health care system.

Health care organizations are focused on both investing in improved software solutions and consolidating software solutions. The recent symplr Compass Survey, which gathered information from health care chief information officers (CIOs), revealed that 60% of hospitals and health systems use 50 or more software solutions for health care operations alone. Additionally, more than 84% of respondents feel that having a streamlined IT infrastructure is an important factor in their ability to retain clinicians. Survey data from Bain and KLAS also corroborates these findings, citing that 63% of providers are looking to streamline the number of third-party software solutions in their tech stacks over the next year. Hospitals and health systems should implement dynamic, efficient solutions that streamline and automate processes for clinicians and empower their staff to focus on delivering quality patient care.

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Administrators and clinicians are burdened with too many siloed tools, which take time away from patient care and add to the fatigue and frustration of administrative responsibilities. Consolidating and integrating business-critical solutions not only reduces the number of vendors health system CIOs manage, but also ensures operational efficiency, consistency, and security. Industry leaders are hoping that by streamlining and automating workforce management, provider data management, health care governance, risk management, and compliance with the right health care operations solutions, providers can spend more time providing quality care to patients, ultimately reducing burnout, and improving staff retention.

Economic strain in the health care landscape has caused stakeholders across the industry to adjust their 2023 budgetary outlook. As margins continue to thin, the symplr Compass Survey shows that 41% of CIOs agree that financial pressure is the top threat their organizations will face in the coming year. Many are beginning to review cost strategies with a focus on system interoperability and solutions that optimize costs but also avoid interruptions to the current workforce. As organizations evaluate their financial health, they expect cost-containment strategies to persist and data-driven insights to identify value and ensure return on investment moving forward. Organizations understand the need to prepare for perpetual change and unforeseen circumstances and are focusing on accelerated timelines to digitally transform their operational structure, using technology to streamline time-consuming tasks.

Ongoing economic pressure increases incentives to leverage technology solutions to reduce costs for hospitals and health systems. Decision makers should look to health care operations solutions that provide enterprise-wide return on investment to ensure optimal outcomes. Not only will this provide better financial outcomes for health care systems, but it will also provide clinicians and administrators with greater flexibility to provide critical patient care.

BJ Schaknowski is a seasoned software industry executive, with over 20 years of experience in leadership roles across a wide variety of operating functions. A Marine Corps veteran, he has worked for Vertafore, LexisNexis Software Solutions, CA Technologies, Intuit, and Sage Software.


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