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How to Build a Business Case for Healthcare App Modernization

Many healthcare organizations still rely on outdated, legacy applications that are difficult and expensive to maintain. These legacy systems, built on older languages and frameworks, have become complex patched webs over years of fragmented upgrades. These mission-critical but antiquated healthcare apps empower core clinical and operational workflows spanning patient intake, diagnosis, treatment planning, billing, and more. However, prolonged underinvestment in application modernization services has made the status quo unsustainable with rising security risks, ballooning costs, and the inability to offer digitally-enabled care. Building a compelling business case is thus key to securing executive-level stakeholder approval and the necessary budget for modernizing these critical healthcare applications.

How to Build a Business Case for Healthcare App Modernization

Here are the key steps to legacy app modernization services:

Step #1. Fully Understand the Current State

Start by thoroughly documenting existing applications’ technical architecture, data structure, interfaces, and workflows. Outline all interconnected systems from EMR and billing to pharmacy, analytics, and patient engagement apps. This sets the context for the breadth and complexity of changes required.

Next, identify specific pain points of current applications through in-depth customer research. Conduct clinician surveys, shadows, and leadership interviews to capture users’ challenges. Key frustrations may include lengthy development cycles delaying new capability deployment, rising vendor customization costs, integration gaps leading to fragmented patient data across disparate systems, duplicated documentation needs negatively impacting productivity, and patient experience frustrations caused by disjointed workflows.

Quantify the full bottomline impact of these issues through detailed economic analysis to build an ironclad case for change.

Step #2. Research Application Modernization Solutions

Now, analyze various application modernization approaches available and the core pros and cons of each:

Replatforming legacy apps by re-hosting them on an efficiently managed cloud infrastructure like AWS, Azure, or Google Cloud is relatively fast and low-risk but an interim solution. A more strategic path is to refactor apps by re-engineering the UI codebase but keeping most backend logic intact to allow complex workflow evolution. Another option is to replace legacy apps by purchasing modern commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) software or software-as-a-service (SaaS) alternatives, which allow quick deployments but limit future flexibility. Finally, rebuilding apps from scratch on open modern standards like .NET or Java offers the greatest control but demands high upfront effort and risk. A pragmatic approach is to rebuild non-differentiating components first, while improving legacy app interoperability through API gateway integration. Read more at Empeek.

Step #3. Detail Business Benefits

The most compelling case is made by quantifying tangible benefits across the domains leadership cares most about:

Cost Optimization

A legacy modernization services initiative promises over 40% reduction in annual maintenance expenses by consolidating multiple aging technologies. Cloud migrations eliminate the growing costs of on-premise infrastructure upgrades and niche skill maintenance. Further efficiencies can be realized by boosting developer productivity through newer rapid application development tools, allowing teams to be reallocated to value-added efforts. Vendor spending declines by consolidating partners and moving to integrated next-gen platforms optimized for scale.

Patient Experience Improvements

Legacy workflows often directly translate to patient inconveniences caused by disjointed, repetitive processes. Targeted workflow automation and data integration post-modernization help dramatically cut wait times for test results from hours to minutes. Intuitive self-service modules boost patient satisfaction metrics related to transparency and access. Secure messaging keeps patients continuously engaged between visits, leading to better health management.

Enhanced Clinical Outcomes

Antiquated systems lack sophisticated clinical decision support and data interoperability capabilities that underpin modern value-based care models. Unified data from modernization efforts avoids duplicate scans, directly cutting unnecessary radiation exposure. It enables complex predictive models to reduce medication errors and avoidable readmissions substantially. Further, it allows early diagnosis of high-risk conditions, leading to early, targeted interventions that lift outcome scores to benchmark levels.

Step #4. Outline Implementation Approach and Timeline

Alleviating stakeholder anxiety is instrumental to securing modernization approval and budgets. This requires outlining a structured execution plan covering:

Governance and Leadership

Putting in place the right centralized governance framework ensures sustained leadership commitment and accountability across multiple years, often needed to modernize healthcare application portfolios fully. Program success hinges on the extensive participation of key clinical and operational user groups in all tracks, from planning to acceptance testing.

The governance council should include executive-level representation from key stakeholder groups — clinical, IT, operations, finance, and more. Ensure regular steering committee meetings are scheduled to maintain alignment on vision, monitor progress against goals, promptly address escalations, and secure needed funding approvals through the transformation journey.

Phased, Iterative Development

An agile, iterative delivery allows releasing features in digestible phases based on organizational readiness and risk concentrations. Proof of value must be established upfront before expanding legacy application modernization to complex clinical workflows.

Extensive Testing and Training

Patient health impact necessitates rigorous design and testing sprints before deploying updates. Simultaneously, training and change management processes must prepare end-users before going live while incentivizing technology adoption.

Establish extensive test automation suites to simulate diverse clinical usage scenarios and data combinations. Mandate a minimum of 2-3 testing cycles across developer, user, and integrated string testing stages before approving go-lives. Implement robust incident reporting procedures to address any issues promptly. Consider restricting initial updates to non-critical workflows or geographies to contain risk further.

This progressive roadmap is key to realizing investment returns while minimizing business disruption during transitions.

Make Future Vision Tangible

Overcoming organizational inertia requires making the future vision tangible to stakeholders emotionally. This goes beyond projected metrics to showcase actual end-user and patient experiences post-modernization.

Conduct product demonstrations to exhibit intuitive clinician workflows, real-time data analytics, and consumer-grade user experiences that targeted healthcare apps can provide. Arrange site visits for key decision makers to progressive healthcare systems that have successfully modernized complex care delivery platforms. Pilot proof of concepts within the organization as well to build conviction.

Getting stakeholders excited about the art of the possible catalyzes them to become modernization champions within their spheres of influence. This grassroots advocacy creates pull-effect momentum that complements the rigorous top-down business case push.

In summary, legacy healthcare IT architectures significantly handicap providers from offering digitally-enabled, patient-centric care models with inferior economics. Constructing a robust business case and structured legacy application modernization services roadmap is instrumental. However, securing final funding requires emotionally investing stakeholders in the vision to drive change adoption.

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