Health systems must consider these five points before choosing a healthcare technology vendor.
The healthcare information technology (HIT) industry is booming at a staggering rate. There are many new entrants on the market — some of them still very much in the nascent stage when it comes to perfecting and proving their platform’s effectiveness and ROI. As a result, it can be difficult for healthcare executives to cut through the clutter of superlatives and make smart decisions about technologies that can benefit their organization.
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The North American HIT market is expected to hit $104.3 billion by 2020, growing at more than 13 percent, alongside nearly 9 percent growth in HIT budgets this year alone. With such a tremendous amount of money being poured into healthcare informatics, the stakes are extremely high. In the perfect storm of increasing patient demand, skyrocketing medical costs and the drive toward value-based care, organizations don’t have time and energy to waste in choosing the wrong technology solutions. They need proven solutions with quantifiable results at an ROI that makes sense.
As your organization attempts to select an HIT investment, here are some tips that can help you evaluate the options and make the best decisions for today and down the road.
- More data isn’t always better. The ability to capture and analyze not only more data, but more kinds of data, promises to revolutionize medicine, allowing providers to have much greater insight into both individual cases (personalized medicine) and population management. But introducing massive amounts of data and analytics suddenly into the physician workflow can bring care to a crippling halt. Physicians are already inundated with data and have less time than they would like to spend with patients. For data to be useful, it must be valuable and actionable, and it must enable physicians to spend more time with patients. Make sure that any solution that offers data analytics can turn out analysis that’s actually useful and relevant to delivering better care.
- It can’t be impossible to implement. In the rush to jump on market opportunity, we’re seeing a huge spike in the number of HIT startups. This is wonderful for the industry because it ensures ample competition and raises the bar for solution value proposition and standards. However, it also means there are a lot of nascent, unproven technologies whose developers are under tremendous pressure to sign new business, and that rush to commercialize might mean a platform is brought to market before it’s truly ready for prime time. Before making an investment, be sure that the platform is proven technologically sound and effective, fully operational and can deliver a clear ROI that solves your organization’s business challenges.
- Insist on support services. Even for a software-as-a-servcie solution, there must be services built into the platform to ensure integration and interoperability. Technology providers who claim to offer a self-service solution with scant support and service integration may not be ready to deliver the level of operational and business problem-solving that your organization may need when embarking on a new technology implementation.
- Consider a partner development relationship. If you’ve found a technology partner that seems worthy of your investment, consider a formal client development partner/investor relationship. Even for healthcare organizations without a structured venture investment program, this relationship can deliver mutual benefit for both parties. With the right technology partner, this relationship not only gives healthcare organizations a seat at the table in fine-tuning and expanding the technology, but also an opportunity to build an investment portfolio for added revenue generation.
- Be honest. Being thorough in your evaluation and testing of any new technology is important, but also keep in mind that companies seeking your business can’t afford to burn a bunch of cycles either. If you launch into a test and find that the platform just isn’t beneficial for your organization, or it needs some refinement, be upfront and honest. Even if it’s painful, it’s better to be forthcoming, otherwise the company can’t make the critical adjustments that might make all the difference for both their platform and your ROI.
With so much money and the urgent need for efficiency riding on HIT investment decisions, it’s easy to see how choosing the right platform can be daunting. But by evaluating prospective solutions carefully and realistically, healthcare executives and providers can confidently make the right decision for both their patients and their organization to secure a more productive and fiscally sound future.
With more than 20 years of leadership and experience in healthcare, Steve Whitehurst has successfully built, scaled and launched technology businesses of varying size and maturity. His success lies in his ability to assess and find partners to support growth, fill in gaps and create better operational scale. As CEO at Health Fidelity, Steve is focused on building a great team that is strongly aligned with their mission and purpose. He holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from St. Mary’s College. He sits on a number of boards and acts as a mentor for the healthcare startup community.
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