The Return on Investment (ROI) Calculator

This calculator is designed to help community-based organizations and healthcare organizations plan and develop sustainable partnerships to fund the delivery of social services—such as housing, food, transportation, home modifications, legal aid, and financial counseling—for people with complex needs. This calculator will determine the healthcare savings a healthcare organization might expect as a result of a social service investment, also known as their financial Return on Investment (ROI).

  • How can I use the ROI Calculator?

    The calculator can help you:

    1. Determine ROI: Define the healthcare cost savings and ROI that can be expected from the provision of selected social services to an identified population.
    2. Make a Business Case: Develop a business case based on expected ROI to inform planning and negotiations for a contract between a healthcare entity and a community based organization to deliver social services under a variety of payment methods.
    3. Assess Different Financing Models: Compare and select between different types of financing models including full cost recovery, fee-for-service, case rates, capitation, and shared savings. 
    4. Evaluate Impact: Evaluate your experience to refine and sustain the partnership arrangement over time.
  • Is my organization ready to use the ROI Calculator?
    1. Does the healthcare partner have aligned payment incentives? This tool will be most useful when a healthcare organization has an incentive to reduce avoidable healthcare utilization. Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial insurers are developing value-based payment models focused on equity and, in some cases, paying directly to support community social services. For some healthcare organizations, such as hospitals paid under fee-for-service, reductions in ER visits and utilization (especially in commercial populations) will actually result in reductions in revenue. The quick calculator will not capture this reduction but the deep dive calculator will allow you to incorporate the impact of revenue loss. 
    2. Do you plan to serve a high-needs population? This tool will allow you to calculate potential healthcare savings for any adult population, but is most useful for adults with complex healthcare and social needs. That is because social service interventions are more likely to save money for populations that are using more expensive healthcare services due to unmet social needs. Social services may benefit other populations such as children but not save money if their healthcare use is low. 
    3. Is financial ROI the appropriate focus for your partnership? This tool can help you assess the potential financial implications of a cross-sector partnership, or the financial trade-offs between building a social service or contracting with an existing community resource. This tool will not capture all of the potential costs associated with building a social service resource or the potential benefits of contracting with a community organization resource.
  • When should I use the Quick Calculator versus the Deep Dive Calculator?

    In general, we recommend that new users start with the quick calculator.

      1. Availability of data: The quick calculator pre-populates the inputs required by the calculator with national healthcare utilization data and published evidence on the impact of social service interventions. The deep dive calculator requires you to manually enter these data such as baseline healthcare utilization rates (e.g., ER visits), costs for healthcare events (e.g., hospital day), and estimated impact of an intervention (e.g., home-delivered meals). 
      2. Types of social services: The quick calculator calculates ROI only for select utilization outcomes (e.g., reduction in hospital admissions) for the following social service interventions: supportive housing, transitional housing, medical respite/recuperative care, medically tailored meals, non-medically tailored meals, legal assistance and care management. The deep dive calculator allows calculations on a wider range of interventions and outcomes.
      3. Relevance: The quick calculator uses national data and published evidence that may not be fully comparable to your specific use case. The deep dive calculator will support a calculation tailored to your identified population and intervention. The quick calculator can be a good place to start to develop a “ballpark” estimate of ROI that can be refined later when you have specific information on your population and intervention.
      4. Partner Type: The quick calculator will not capture losses in revenue due to reductions in ER use and hospitalizations. For some healthcare partners, such as hospitals paid under fee-for-service, reductions in ER visits and hospitalizations will result in loss of revenue that is not accounted for in the quick calculator. For these types of partnerships, the deep dive calculator will be better able to capture revenue losses as well as gains. 
  • What else should I consider when calculating ROI?

    Using this calculator to estimate ROI is one piece of estimating the overall value of a healthcare investment in social resources. Estimating overall value of investment requires pairing this type of ROI calculation with economic returns (all tangible and intangible benefits that confer economic value to each partner institution, such as boosts to capacity, productivity, or branding and goodwill) and social returns (benefits that accrue to a broader set of organizations, stakeholders, and constituents in a community). While the ROI information in this calculator provides insight into cost neutral investments, a deeper value of investment analysis should be included in developing reimbursement rates for community based organizations. 

    ROI Calculator pie chart


Help and Reference Documents


Click here to view a list of resources such as

  • a step-by-step user guide
  • national benchmarks for baseline healthcare utilization
  • a guide to evidence on the impact of social service interventions
  • case studies on the tool’s use.

The ROI Calculator was supported by the Commonwealth Fund and the SCAN Foundation. The original calculator was developed by Dr. Victor Tabbush.

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