The march toward value-based care has prompted a seemingly endless number of vendors to claim they have the ‘secret sauce’ that will help health systems and vendor partners succeed in an ever-evolving market.
With so many options, decision-makers must separate false promises from real opportunities and identify the companies that will have staying power. Taking a thoughtful and strategic approach to analyzing options will help identify beneficial long-term partners.
- Identify and understand the problem that needs solving – As consumers, we are tempted by the bells and whistles that accompany the latest shiny object. This maxim holds true for technology: some tech offers a helpful long-range purpose, while some is little more than a passing fad. Technology that solves a problem tends to stick around. When considering what solution and vendor to implement across a health system, avoid choosing technology for its own sake. First, understand the problem you want to address. That understanding, in turn, can help define the key characteristics you are seeking in technology.
- Check the company’s history – It may seem obvious, but the length of time a vendor has been in the market provides context for their relative stability and expertise. Has the company been able to adapt to healthcare’s turning tides? Has the vendor successfully integrated at settings of similar size and complexity to yours? What about the vendor’s customers and partners – are they known for being selective? Does the vendor have a mission statement that demonstrates forward-thinking value? Even start-ups can demonstrate how they are setting themselves up to practice what they preach and offer true innovation.
- Ask about methodology – Flexibility and adaptability are qualities to embrace during an implementation. However, knowing that a vendor has standardized methodologies or employs certified project managers provides invaluable insight into their preparedness. Are they still learning their way, or do they have experience to rely on?
- Seek out interoperability and scalability – Many vendors will not outright admit their inability to interoperate or scale. Make sure to ask specific questions to ensure that the health system’s existing infrastructure and tools will work seamlessly with the new offering. Collaboration across service lines must be the aim of any new tool. As ACOs and IDNs continue to grow, solutions must be able to meet the new demands of expanding organizations and patient populations.
- Remember the user – Most software solutions are used by clinicians who must focus on their patients. That is why technology should be easy to use and adopt, rather than requiring a total workflow overhaul. The strongest vendors will offer technology that strengthens existing hospital operations. This may lower implementation costs by maximizing the likelihood of meeting provider challenges from the word go.
Healthcare IT vendors often come and go, especially in today’s market. Ultimately, selecting a vendor requires decision-makers to ask the right questions and focus on the key issue: what problem are we trying to solve? After all, we call them software solutions for a reason.