Dr Benjamin Disney (pictured), Consultant Gastroenterologist, University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust
One year into the pandemic, hospitals around the UK are still under extreme pressure to manage the virus while keeping up with growing demand. At a time like this, reviewing and optimising the way in which chronic conditions are being treated can help alleviate some of the burden on hospitals. At the Bowel Interest Group (BIG), raising awareness about bowel conditions is our core mission. The stigma surrounding bowel health makes it an area that typically receives insufficient attention. Yet, a recent BIG report highlighted the alarming cost of constipation: in 2018-19 alone, NHS England spent an estimated £168 million on treating constipation. There is an urgent need to improve treatment pathways in order to improve patient outcomes and reduce the financial cost on health services.
To achieve better outcomes, hospitals will need to apply for investment in bowel care solutions. This type of investment will warrant a solid business case with demonstrable return on investment (ROI). However, healthcare professionals working in bowel, colorectal, gastroenterology, neurology or A&E services may be reluctant to write a business case since they may be unfamiliar with the financial aspects of service improvement – but they are also best placed to suggest where and how improvements could be made. To help guide healthcare professionals through the process, this article provides the do’s and don’ts of writing a business case for better bowel services.
DO – Work with finance teams to determine impact
When calculating the financial cost and cost saving benefits of your proposed solution, reach out to business and finance experts rather than doing these calculations alone. You’ll want to make your calculations as thorough and accurate as possible.
DO – Give a clear overview of the resources required
Make sure you include the exact amount of capital needed to achieve your project as well as the way you plan to measure and demonstrate the impact of the investment once it is in place. If possible, you should aim to demonstrate that the investment will eventually become cost neutral, by reducing spending on bowel dysfunction treatment in the long-term.
DO – Consider risks of not taking on this change
Your business case should also include the impact of no investment – what would it cost the hospital year on year if they made no changes at all? What would be the risk of inactivity in this area?
DON’T – Solely focus on your department’s performance
In order to demonstrate awareness of the wider effects on the organisation, we suggest you break this down by department: how much training and resources need to be allocated to each involved department and how will implementing the solution impact KPIs within each division?
DON’T – Focus on one preferred option
It’s always a good idea to suggest several options in case the preferred and most impactful solution is not feasible. Provide a choice of two or three pathways demonstrating the benefits that could be achieved at your hospital with either partial or full funding. When it comes to presenting your business case and the various options, however, you should conclude by recommending the best course of action based on your research findings and professional experience.
DON’T – Assume immediate impact or overpromise on timelines
Be realistic when it comes to the timeline for your proposed investment. It’s unlikely that results will be immediately noticeable, so avoid overpromising on deadlines and setting investor expectations too high. By mapping out a realistic timeline of expected benefits with set timeframes for each milestone, investors will have a clear idea of when to expect the project to reach its full potential. If the project goes ahead, this timeline will also serve as a valuable reference to make sure you’re staying on schedule.
Find the Bowel Interest Group’s how-to guide on making a business case here: https://bowelinterestgroup.co.uk/resources/business-cases-for-better-bowel-care-a-how-to-guide/