Tight hospital budgets mean many IT projects go unfunded

Electronic health records can be an expensive item on a health care IT department's budget.

Technology has changed the face of the health care industry in recent years. From new medical devices, diagnostic equipment and federal incentives for meaningful use of electronic health records, the average hospital's IT department has had its hands full for some time.  However, while these technologies can significantly improve the quality of patient care, they also regularly come with a hefty price point. 

But as previously addressed in this blog, alongside the rise in new technology being introduced, insurance reimbursements have dwindled, and higher up-front costs for patients that go beyond what they can readily afford have left many facilities dealing with issues of bad debt. 

Faced with these challenges, hospitals often need to make difficult decision on which technologies to explore. 

"We've started to really ask the question, 'Is this a business need or is it a convenience?'" Stephen Stewart, CIO of Henry County Health Center in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, told Becker's Hospital Review. "We've come to conclude we can't be all things to all people. We've funded the technology we needed to."

Stewart explains that many facilities need to consider what will provide the highest return on investment. In many cases, this includes electronic health records, which run an average of $50,000 to purchase and install. However, the technology allows for federal incentives if facilities can meet meaningful use guidelines.

As a result, many health care IT professionals are wondering "what if" as they continue to see new technologies introduced that could potentially significantly impact patient care, but simply cannot be fit into a constrictive IT budget. 

If your hospital is experiencing concerns with cash flow that place certain technologies out of its financial reach, outsourcing accounts receivables could provide more resources to devote to exploring new technologies.