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Hiring a consultant can cost more in the long run
If you’re looking for essential benchmarking information, why not just buy the information from your state for a couple of thousand dollars each year? Hospitals in 30 states are required to regularly report data to their states.
"The issue for case managers is not the cost of the data," explains Richard B. Siegrist Jr., CEO of HealthShare Technology in Acton, MA. "It’s the cost of doing something with it. If a hospital attempts to get this job done by itself, it has to involve the facility’s [information systems] department and develop a query system. It could end up costing a hospital five times as much as leasing or buying decision-support software. That’s not a cost-effective way to go."
The advantage of a decision-support program is that the programmers clean up the data, make it user-friendly, and provide solid cost information. In addition, your state will only have information from facilities in your state; companies like HealthShare, HCIA in Baltimore, and others provide data from other states, usually for an extra fee.
Would it save money to buy data from the state, then hire a consultant to mold it into meaningful information? Hiring a consultant often costs more in the long run, and results can be much less effective.
"Consultants are expensive and often never get a good grasp of what’s going on," says Debbie Caskey, RN, administrative director of cardiovascular services for The Jewish Health System in Cincinnati. "Sometimes you spend as much time educating them as if you were mining the data yourself." At the end of the day, they make their recommendations and go away, leaving the institution to deal with reality, she says.
The decision-support software that’s available today can compile and analyze in a few minutes what once took a consultant days or weeks to do. "We’ve done it both ways," says Caskey. She explains that when an institution is having a difficult time with physician buy-in, it’s sometimes more effective to have a third party, like a consultant, present the data. After that stage, the physicians are convinced the data are valid, and a computer decision-support program becomes valuable.
For more information, contact the following:
Richard B. Siegrist Jr., CEO, HealthShare Technology, Acton, MA. Telephone: (508) 263-6300.
Debra Caskey, RN, administrative director, cardiovascular services, The Jewish Health System, Cincinnati. Telephone: (513) 891-8159.