Time for a healthcare technology refresh? 8 things to consider when selecting a new supplier
13 April 2015
Technology is one of the key enablers in the ongoing quest to improve patient health outcomes, to ensure patient safety and to increase patient satisfaction. As more and more hospitals move toward a fully digital future, IT spend in the sector is on the rise.
Advancements in healthcare technology enable care givers to be operationally more efficient and to communicate more seamlessly, with less room for error. And one thing is for certain, technology is always moving and the true potential of what is possible only just emerging.
It is the impossible dream of healthcare IT managers to continuously upgrade their technology in line with the latest developments, it is simply moving too quickly. And when the time does come for a healthcare technology refresh, the focus should be on selecting best-of-breed technologies and partners who have a long term vision and can support you well into the future.
The list below may assist you in the selection process, whether you are looking at a new nurse call system, patient entertainment system, or a building, lighting or duress system – it all comes down to working with the right technology partner.
Eight things to consider when selecting a new healthcare technology partner
When selecting a new healthcare technology partner, think about the following:
1. Do they offer best-of-breed solutions?
Most suppliers will make that claim, but it is your job to determine the real list of major players in the market – and it may not necessarily be those with the largest installed base. Remember that technology is always moving and the market is always shifting. Market trends can sometimes be more telling than the volume of current installations. Consider who is winning the most work, and how long they have been doing so.
2. Are they resourced to deliver?
New technology installations in a healthcare setting can be complex, and the stakes are high. Can you trust the supplier to support you in the way that you need them to? Consider their resources (manufacturing, warehousing etc), and the size of their team (technical staff and support staff). And don’t underestimate the power of a face-to-face meeting, particularly when things don’t go according to plan – does the supplier have a local presence?
3. Will they be around in 5 years’ time?
The system you are buying today needs to support you for years to come. Try to gain some insight into the financial and operational stability of the organisation you are looking to work with. How long have they been serving your market, what are their future plans? Also look at the stability and consistency of the supplier’s management team. How likely are you to be speaking with the same people in 5 years’ time?
4. How does the supplier demonstrate its commitment to quality?
In healthcare, there is very little room for error. Depending on the nature of the solution you are sourcing, it may be appropriate for you to ask if the supplier has a ‘zero defect’ manufacturing policy. Certification to ISO 9001 – a globally recognised quality management system – signifies a supplier’s commitment to customer satisfaction and continual improvement and is subject to regular independent audits.
5. Can you speak to actual users of the system you are considering?
When it comes to the benefits of the product or service, don’t just take the potential partner’s word for it. Ask to speak to their existing customers or, better yet, make the time to visit a reference site. When you are there, make sure that you get to see the system working in the field and doing what it is meant to do. And remember to speak to actual users – not only about the technology but also about the relationship with the supplier and their ongoing support.
6. Will today’s technology also serve you tomorrow?
Technology advancement is happening faster than ever and is important to understand the long term roadmap for any new solution. But – as always – beware of vapourware. The ideal solution is based on technology that is proven today, and provided by a partner who can clearly demonstrate how it will scale and grow with you, to support you well into tomorrow.
7. What is the expected lifespan and will you be supported?
Hospitals are built to last 25 to 30 years. How many times can you expect to replace the equipment during this time? Depending on which solution you are considering the difference in the expected lifespan of various competing technologies can be significant. Ensure that the supplier you choose will support you for the whole of life of the building.
8. Have you considered the total cost of ownership?
The initial purchase price is only one piece of the puzzle. In building your business case consider the ongoing maintenance, support and upgrade costs. Beware of ‘revenue share’ or ‘bundled’ offers and clauses that lock you in to one supplier for longer than you feel comfortable. And remember, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Are you considering or planning a healthcare technology refresh? We specialise in hospital communication, nurse call systems, and patient entertainment solutions and are experts in healthcare system integration. Speak to us to see how we can help.
Other articles which may be of interest:
When healthcare system integration goes wrong and how to avoid it.