Mowry agrees that getting maximum benefit from a system like this takes time. Providers get immediate results by moving from manual to automated systems, but research shows that most people who buy automation don't implement all of the features and functions right away. "First, they'll have an immediate reduction in process steps and time," says Mowry. "Then, they're going to have the reporting ability to understand their true costs as an enterprise. And once you understand your true cost then you can evaluate where you can decrease it."
Burgess sees more gains down the line. "One of the areas we're expecting ROI is through vendor payments, and taking advantage of vendor credit with timely payments. That's probably the big area from a dollar perspective now that we can manage those details." As the automated process takes over, there is potential for FTE (full time equivalent) restructuring within finance.
According to Mowry, improved access to quality indicators will be available, too. "They'll eventually have business intelligence that sits on top of an integrated database, allowing them to not only look at how they're doing from a financial point of view, but be able to respond much faster to requests for quality indicators," she says. "They'll have the potential to increase revenue due to the ability to capture the metrics for pay for performance." Mowry sees a move towards not only pay for performance but pay for outcomes, such as 'when was the patient able to return to work.'
MaineGeneral views this as a successful project. "Four months in from activation, we're over the hump and the tide is starting to turn," Burgess says. "Our new CFO asked how our numbers on some reports compared from the previous system. We couldn't answer that, because we couldn't get it out of the old system. We're building those baselines now."
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