Proving Return on Investment (ROI) in Nursing Education

March 09, 2018 By Michlle Girdler

How can we prove return on investment (ROI) in nursing education and successfully lobby for more resources and funding?

While nurse educators can see the importance of education, health administrators don’t always understand how it will improve care, improve patient safety and ultimately reduce costs. As a result education departments are often under-funded and under-resourced. Proving that education is making a positive difference in your facility is the key to recruiting more resources and ultimately increasing the quality of the programs that you design. So, how can we do this? The key lies in measuring and proving the ROI of your education.

What is Return on Investment (ROI)?

Return on Investment (ROI) is used as a measure of performance that evaluates the efficiency and quality of an investment, measuring the return relative to the cost. It is used as a tool to guide decisions and prove the worth of an investment.

ROI is an important concept for nurse educators to grasp.

Proving Return on Investment (ROI)

How can we prove ROI?

To mount a convincing business case to the health administrators, we must communicate the value of our education through the smart use of data. This data should highlight the real and potential impact that education is having on the facility. There are a number of data points you can call on to prove ROI:

  • Baseline data: this includes attendance and assessment numbers
  • Pre- and post-education data: look at trends around patient feedback and incident reports before and after engaging in an educational intervention. This will allow you to illustrate the direct impact of the education
  • Evaluations: learner evaluations enable us to understand what has been learnt and how learners intend to change their current practice as a result
  • Follow-up data: undertaking evaluation periodically after the educational intervention enables us to track the lasting behaviour of a learner and the long term impact of education
  • The ACHS: national standards data can be used to guide education, and prove that particular interventions need to take place
  • Staff appraisals and performance reviews: this data can be used to track the capabilities of staff, particularly in regards to key skills and knowledge

Collecting and reporting on numerous data points relating to our education programs on a regular basis is key, particularly when it comes to proving ROI. While this will take time, there are several places that you can go to improve the efficiency around this, including Risk Managers in the Safety and Quality Department of your facility.

Communicating your ROI

As educators, we captivate and engage audiences every day. We explain new and difficult concepts and convince people of why they should change they manner in which they practice. We can recruit the same strategies to effectively communicate ROI to the administrators. However, it starts with great education. When administrators hear nursing staff talking about the great education sessions that they are attending and then see the rate of incident reports going down, they will see the value in education.

The positive impact of high-quality education on patient care and patient satisfaction is undeniable. As nurse educators, we see this every day. Now we just need to help our administrators see it too.

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