Healthcare leaders: do you have hidden ROI?

Sarah Korf Dill

Sarah Korf Dill

In a joint presentation at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in Orlando on February 24, 2014, Advocate Health Care and Slalom Consulting are challenging healthcare leaders to discover their hidden ROI. Slalom and Advocate will share how one of the nation’s top 10 health systems, and the largest integrated healthcare system in Illinois, achieved dramatic business and clinical results from a unified communication and collaboration initiative—and how other healthcare organizations can, too.

As a result of its unified communication and collaboration initiative, Advocate improved patient experience for the nearly 4 million individuals treated across Advocate’s 12 hospitals and 250 sites of care. The initiative achieved everything from improved Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) results to a reduction in readmission rates and higher levels of quality care. Plus, the healthcare system dramatically improved productivity and increased satisfaction for its 6,300 affiliated physicians and more than 34,000 associates, including nearly 10,000 nurses. While financial impact wasn’t the primary consideration, the program also resulted in ongoing cost avoidance in the millions of dollars, as well as considerable time savings and increased connectivity, collaboration, and productivity across the system.

So how did Advocate achieve ROI on this scale? We hope you can join us at HIMSS for the full story (if not, check out how to catch the presentation online below). We can give you a hint, though: uncovering ROI at Advocate  wasn’t just a result of what we did, but rather how we did it. And our definition of ROI was never exclusively financial.

To be successful at the end of this journey meant to increase patient, physician, and associate satisfaction; to advance patient safety; and to improve communication, collaboration, and productivity. With a lot riding on this initiative, it had to be done right. According to industry analysts, if technology implementations fail, the cause is most likely attributed to people and processes rather than technology issues. With this in mind, we took a holistic approach with equal focus on people, process, and technology.


Organizational commitment and adoption determines the success of any program. Based on past experience, we knew a proven change management approach was needed to achieve our ROI goals. So we involved a change management team from the beginning to develop and execute our adoption strategy. This team actively identified, managed, and propelled desired behavior changes, using targeted communication, training, and engagement strategies to drive adoption and mitigate any resistance to change. Transparency and communication with stakeholders was the current that tied all aspects of our solution together.


With an organization the size of Advocate, deploying a unified communication and collaboration initiative was no small undertaking. This was more than just a project; this was a long-term commitment to instill new ways of working. With a four-year roadmap, we needed a program structure that would be flexible enough to accommodate changes, yet strong enough to support a permanent organizational shift.  We needed to establish solid governance, including a steering committee and engagement network responsible for the ongoing alignment among executive leadership, hospital administrators, clinical teams, and IT.


The selection of technology is another critical component of maximizing ROI. Based on Advocate’s strategy and objectives, a combination of standard and custom-developed technology solutions from multiple vendors was the best choice. This included a robust telepresence network, digital signage, a unified associate directory, collaboration tools, a new Intranet, and secure HD clinician-to-clinician communications (including texting, patient notifications, lab result,s and photos), as well as a custom system to provide patient feedback to the right people and departments. The program also included significant upgrades to email, instant messaging, and web conferencing systems. When making these technology decisions, the key to Advocate’s success was focusing on their destination – starting with goals in mind, not specific tools.

We hope you can join us in Orlando for the full story! If not, sign up as an online attendee for the simulcast of Do You Have Hidden ROI? Discover it Now! to catch it live or on replay, and check in here for a recap of HIMSS after the event.

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