(Last updated: 07/27/2021)
Implementing new technology can be a daunting, stressful task. The first step is determining what problems you need to fix or challenges you need to overcome. Once these have been identified, the search for a solution begins. As if this wasn’t time-consuming enough, you also have to sift through a sea of vendors. Finding the right vendor is just as important as finding the right solution. To help in your search, we’ll examine five common traits of top healthcare IT vendors you should look for when implementing new tech.
Interoperability is one of the biggest initiatives in healthcare right now. While the primary focus of interoperability initiatives in healthcare is the exchange of patient information between systems, it’s also important for healthcare IT vendors to offer solutions that are interoperable with other systems. Even if a solution isn’t directly related to patient information, its ability to interact with other systems in the hospital, such as the EHR, helps streamline workflows.
2. Proven Track Record
As new and innovative technologies continue to pop up in healthcare, so do new vendors. While a brand new solution may seem to address the problems you need to fix, partnering with a newly established vendor can be risky. After all, 45% of new business fail within the first five years according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In fact, only 25% of businesses survive to 15 years. When choosing a healthcare IT vendor, confidence that the vendor isn’t going anywhere is key. Vendors that have been in business for more than 15 years have a proven track record. Furthermore, these vendors likely have happy clients that can provide testimonials and show proof of the vendor’s capabilities or service.
3. Alignment with Customer Goals
One of the primary focuses of a healthcare IT vendor is alignment with their customers’ goals. Each client has different needs, and top vendors will tailor to those needs. If a vendor doesn’t keep your goals in mind throughout the process, conflict could arise, and you may experience buyer’s remorse. When narrowing down your list of preferred vendors for a particular solution, be sure to ask each vendor how they partner with their clients to help them achieve their goals. If they can’t answer this question or give a vague response, they may not be the right fit.
4. Product Enhancements Based on Customer Feedback
Just as aligning with your goals is an important trait in a health IT vendor, so is listening to your feedback and using that feedback in product enhancements. Vendors who innovate for the sake of innovation may miss the mark and actually make the user experience worse. Think about how many times you’ve opened an app on your phone only to find the latest update has changed so many things. More often than not, this probably leaves you feeling frustrated. When vendors listen to their customers and end-users however, they can improve their products and services based upon that feedback. This is a win-win situation for the customer and the vendor.
5. Thorough Project Management
A lot can go wrong when implementing new technology. That’s why it’s important to partner with a vendor who offers thorough project management services from beginning to end. When evaluating vendors, be sure to ask about their project management services. The best vendors will be able to tell you their detailed project management approach, including project schedules and timelines, expectations, and communication methods. Vendors who follow the PMBOK philosophy are best equipped for managing complex projects.
6. 24/7 Support
Consumers expect 24/7 customer support from the companies with whom they do business. Businesses and organizations should expect the same level of support from their vendors, especially healthcare IT vendors. In healthcare, tech issues can be a matter of life and death. Ideally, vendor solutions will be user-friendly enough that end-users can troubleshoot most issues themselves without having to contact support. In more complex situations though, it’s important to have a vendor who can provide support 24/7 to resolve critical issues as quickly as possible. Look for vendors that offer multiple contact methods, such as live chat, email, phone, and support tickets via the customer portal. The absolute best vendors will take 24/7 support a step further and continuously monitor their customers’ systems for any issues and promptly address them as they arise.
7. Proactive Preparedness
Finally, the best healthcare IT vendors are those that take proactive measures to deal with issues. Whether it’s having measures in place to address the rise in cyber attacks during the COVID-19 pandemic or having a support team standing by 24/7 to address system issues, proactive preparedness is crucial for vendors to ensure their customers stay up and running. When disaster strikes, whether it’s in the form of a hurricane, pandemic, or cyber attack, partnering with vendor who is equipped to aid in the recovery process can save money and lives.
Partnering for Success
When implementing new healthcare technologies, partnering with the right vendor is just as important as choosing the solution itself. The AMA recommends the following steps when deciding on a new healthcare IT vendor:
- Research potential vendors
- Build a Request for Proposal (RFP) and send it to vendors that most closely align to your goals
- Review RFP responses to weed out unsuitable vendors
- Ask for case studies and referrals
- Schedule live vendor demos with appropriate internal teams
- Evaluate vendors across six critical factors: Business, Information Technology, Security, Usability, Customer Service, Clinical Validation
- Narrow your options to one or two preferred vendors to include in your pitch to leadership
As outlined above, you should also look for these seven traits when evaluating vendors:
- Interoperability with other vendors/systems
- Proven track record (i.e. longevity, customer evidence)
- Alignment with customer goals
- Product enhancements based on customer feedback
- Thorough project management
- 24/7 customer support
- Proactive preparedness to quickly resolve issues and respond to disaster
To further aid in vendor evaluation, the AMA provides this vendor information intake form to help you easily record important vendor information.
Fulfilling Multi-Departmental Initiatives
One final suggestion for selecting a health IT vendor is to choose a vendor, or vendors whose services or solutions can help fulfill multi-departmental initiatives. While one vendor may not be able to solve every challenge facing every department, their ability to address multiple initiatives throughout the hospital can prove very beneficial. For example, a vendor whose solution improves the ambulatory order process may fulfill several initiatives, such as:
- Improving patient experience by eliminating the need for rescheduling through order accuracy and proper preparation
- Ensuring patient safety by consulting a qualified clinical decision support mechanism (qCDSM) to ensure order accuracy
- Maximizing reimbursement by eliminating CPT/ICD-10 code mismatches through qCDSM consultation and PAMA compliance
- Predicting staffing and capacity needs by analyzing data from reporting dashboards
Vendors who can solve multiple initiatives across departments can save money and improve overall efficiency. When selecting a vendor, keep this in mind and ask prospective vendors how they can solve hospital-wide challenges.
The Case for iPro
At iPro, our vision is to help every client be successful with our software solutions through quality services & support. Whether customers are using our ambulatory order management solution, iOrder, or one of our many radiology solutions, they can count on the iPro team. Below are just some of the reasons to make iPro your vendor of choice:
- Our software solutions are interoperable with other health IT vendors.
- Established in 1998, we’ve been serving clients for over 20 years and can provide customer testimonials.
- We partner with our clients every step of the way to ensure their goals are achieved.
- We use feedback from customer surveys to improve our products and services.
- Our team adheres to the PMBOK project management methodology to develop a strategic implementations plan.
- iPro support is standing by 24/7 and available via live chat, phone, email, and the customer portal.
- We conduct routine maintenance and data backups to ensure adequate recovery measures are in place in the event of a disaster.
If you’d like to know more about how we can be your vendor of choice for ambulatory order management or radiology solutions, contact us today.