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Making the Case for Including an Incident Reporting System in Your Budget

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In today’s healthcare environment, there is an overwhelming need to demonstrate the value and return on investment of implementing a new technology system. When used correctly, healthcare technology has the potential to greatly improve patient outcomes and decrease costs, particularly in the area of patient safety.

For risk managers, it is no longer enough to react to adverse clinical incidents—instead, it is becoming increasingly important to proactively avoid risk.

Incident reporting is a significant focus of these risk management efforts, not only for the benefit of patients, but also for the financial difference it can make to an organization. (1) However, identifying a viable incident reporting system is only half the battle. You could do hours of research and find the perfect software… only to have your momentum halted when it comes to getting the budget approved.

That’s why risk managers should also be prepared to demonstrate through appropriate metrics and analysis how an healthcare incident reporting software can create value and provide a significant return on investment for their organization. (1) It all starts with a comprehensive plan.

1. Get buy-in from executives by demonstrating ROI

The first step towards getting budget approval is to demonstrate to your executive team the value of implementing an incident management system. Schedule a one-on-one time to meet with key influencers, such as the CFO or the CIO, about exploring a platform. Use your meeting as an opportunity to learn about the executive’s top challenges or concerns, and use that information to support your pitch.

Remember to include data and ROI projections wherever possible—being able to demonstrate a strong return on investment will go a long way in getting budget approval.

Let’s look at patient falls as an example:

  • According to the Joint Commission, across 1,263 hospitals in the United States, adults in medical and surgical units fall 3.56 times per 1,000 patient days, with 26.1% of falls resulting in patient injuries. (2) The average cost of a patient fall with injury is $9,491. (1) If a hospital has an average of 50 patient falls with injury per year, it will cost the organization $474,550 annually.
  • If the incident management software reduces the number of falls with injury by 50% (25 falls with injury per year, down from 50), then the new cost of falls with injury will be $237,275. The hospital will save $237,275 annually as a result of implementing the software.
  • ROI can then be calculated with the following formula:
    % ROI = (Return/ Investment) * 100 = ($237,275 / Cost of Software) * 100

If you’re serious about getting an incident reporting system approved in the budget, these are the kind of numbers you should be taking to your C-Suite when it comes to decision time. Although the upfront cost might seem like a large number at first, when you break it down and calculate the return on the investment over time, investing in an incident reporting system can save your organization a lot of money and drastically improve patient outcomes.

2. Do your market research

Once the need for a technology software has been established, it is important to commit adequate time and resources to thoroughly consider different options. (3)  Spend time evaluating the organizational values and system capabilities of potential vendors to understand if the system will be a good fit for your team.

Speaking with other healthcare organizations that have implemented similar technology can also be very helpful when deciding on an incident reporting software. (3) 

It’s also important to note that not all incident reporting systems are built specifically for healthcare, so when evaluating vendors, be sure to ask if the system is HIPAA compliant and if it is optimized for a healthcare setting.

3. Understand your team’s challenges

The next step to getting approval for an incident reporting system is to clearly understand the unique needs of your team. What challenges do they struggle with that an error reporting system could help alleviate? Maybe your employees are spending a lot of time manually reporting incidents on paper or Excel, and they want to be able to submit incident reports more efficiently and easily see trends over time. In this case, you would want to look for a system that includes an easy user interface and robust data visualization.

The key to success in implementing any incident reporting system is utilization—so it’s worth the time spent upfront to truly understand your team’s needs and challenges, in order to gain a strong return on your investment. Consider questions such as:

    • Is it taking too long to complete an incident report?
    • Is under-reporting an issue?
    • Are the right people immediately notified when an incident is reported, or are there delays in notification?
    • How and where is the data shared? Is it easy to identify trends over time? 

By understanding your team’s challenges, doing your market research, and getting buy-in from executives by demonstrating ROI, you’ll be well on your way to getting budget approval for an incident reporting system.  


Performance Health Partner’s Incident Reporting System

Performance Health Partner’s Incident Reporting system is an enterprise incident management software that includes prevention, reporting, and post-event analysis to bring your organization closer to zero harm.

Learn more about the program at https://www.performancehealthus.com/incident-and-event-reporting or request a demo here.

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References:

1. https://www.ghshrm.org/html/ROI%20for%20Patient%20Safety.pdf

2. https://www.jointcommissionjournal.com/article/S1553-7250(17)30350-1/pdf

3. https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/5-cios-share-how-they-gain-buy-in-on-new-technology.html

4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3715363/

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