by adgrooms on May 21, 2019

Healthcare software comes in a large spectrum of pricing, from open source to high dollar enterprise, each offers different features, benefits, and solutions. How does a hospital justify buying a particular piece of software? Is it better patient outcomes? Increased efficiency of physicians? Impact to the bottom line? Or just keeping up with the status quo? Selecting software and understanding the costs and tradeoffs can be a long and difficult process.

One would think there is a tradeoff between the cost and the benefits that the technology delivers, but that is not always the case. Some expensive, broadly reaching software can be a drain on the time and efficiency of those using it. Some inexpensive apps fill a need that is incredibly helpful and easy to use. It is important to look at the complete picture when considering technology budget allocation.

Great technology will reliably automate processes and increase efficiency. Sub-par technology will appear to automate or enhance, but in reality, its only impact is to shift the burden around. For instance, the benefits may not be equally distributed between an administrator and a physician using the system. Something that may save hours for an administrator may shift the time burden to the physician. When you factor in the cost of a physician’s time and reduction in bedside care, the expense of the software may not be justified. EHRs, of course, come to mind, now infamous for shifting medical coding responsibility from the administrator to the provider.

Good software should be developed with all users in mind, and there should not be an extreme price for it. The software company should provide a thorough demo and ideally, you and representative stakeholders should be able to interact with it before you buy it. Much of the value will present itself in the form of good user experience. It should be intuitively designed for all technical skill levels that will use it to achieve maximum efficiency.

With the cost of a product, support should be heavily considered also. Will there be training? What is the quality of the training and support materials? Will there be a human available to help when there is a problem? Do you have to pay for support? It is arguably one of the most important features for a fast-moving medical team. If you implement quality software you shouldn’t have to use support, but it needs to be readily accessible in case of emergency and without exorbitant extra charges.

Cost is always a consideration when purchasing software, but looking at the complete picture and making sure your whole team benefits will ultimately provide you value.