Digital

Digital Health Implementation Playbook Step 4: Evaluating the Vendor

Overview

Evaluate possible vendors across key criteria that will enable your goals. Go into the process with the intent of finding someone who will be a long-term partner and not just someone to execute a transaction. Select a shortlist of quality vendors by speaking with organizations or practices similar to yours. Alternatively, attending health care technology conferences like HIMSS (and local HIMSS chapters), TEDMED, Connected Health, Health 2.0 or Rock Health; collaborating with a health care accelerator or incubator; or leveraging the AMA’s Physician Innovation Network* to connect with one of 400+ companies, can expose you to possible vendors and practical solutions.

Goals to accomplish

  • Research potential vendors
  • Build a Request for Proposal (RFP), clearly outlining the goals you identified in Step 3
  • Send RFPs to vendors that most closely align to your goals 
  • Review RFP responses alongside key representatives from the Core and Advisory teams
  • Ask for case studies and referrals 
  • Schedule live vendor demos with select members of the Core, Advisory and Implementation 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

Why evaluating the vendor is important

Select a vendor who is worthy of a long-term partnership. This ensures you will have:

  • An expert resource always on hand in challenging situations
  • Support throughout your implementation process, from start to finish (and beyond)
  • A partner who is equally motivated as you to achieve a successful outcome

Best practice

Evaluate vendors across six key variables to find your best partner. If you’re struggling to identify a vendor that’s right for you, consider engaging external resources, such as the Medical Group Management Association (MGMA), Lucro Solutions or the Xcertia mHealth App Guidelines, for support.

Business:

  • Organizational overview – tenure, funding source, financial stability, affiliations, notable customers, etc.
  • Impact to program ROI – product cost, business model, reimbursement rates, risk sharing, support payment program participation, etc.

Information Technology:

  • Ability to integrate with your current IT landscape, particularly your EHR system
  • Cost, process, and timeline associated with integration and product updates
  • Ensure the data elements of most importance to your clinicians and patients can be captured

Security:

  • HIPAA compliance and process for ensuring protection of confidential patient information
  • Liability and process for managing potential security breaches

Usability:

  • User experience of device and interface for patients and care team members
  • Patient and care team engagement metrics
  • Ability to engage with and encourage participation from patients
  • Degree to which this technology/vendor will reduce disruption to existing workflow

Customer Service:

  • Level of support available to practice during and after implementation—staff training, patient education, project management, data analysis and insights, etc.
  • Degree of technical support available to patients

Clinical Validation:

  • Documented clinical outcomes
  • Published peer-reviewed research

Avoiding a misstep

Do your due diligence. Don’t rely on the sales pitch to provide all the information you need. Ask for case studies and referrals to support the pitch, and ask to speak with the product engineers and existing customers to gain a realistic picture of the process to integrate this solution into your organization.

Small practice callout

Value-adds make a big difference for a small group. If you are worried about not having the internal resources to support your implementation, talk with vendors about value-added services they may be able to provide, such as project management, staff and patient training, patient engagement management, etc.

Large practice callout

Anticipate scale from the beginning of your project. Discuss expectations about when and how you intend to scale your program. If you are hoping to scale a program to a large number of patients, consider whether vendors have the resources and infrastructure to support a large-scale rollout within your expected time frame.

Quick tip

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Practice spotlight

Dr. B wanted to implement remote patient monitoring in her practice but was concerned that her low-income and low health-literacy patients may struggle with accessing and operating the technology necessary to use a remote patient monitoring solution successfully. To ensure she picked a solution that would work with her patient population’s specific needs, Dr. B was thoughtful and targeted with questions during vendor selection. In addition to the broad case studies provided in vendor pitches, Dr. B asked about their experience with different patient populations and how success rates varied with different socio-economic patient groups. Through this pointed questioning, Dr. B was able to narrow in on a vendor with a simple interface and low-tech requirements, which better suited her patient population’s needs. By contracting with the right vendor for her patients, Dr. B was able to set up her practice for success.

—Dr. B, practicing physician

Resources

DOWNLOADS

Playbook: Step 4-Selecting a Vendor

Playbook: Step 4-Vendor Form

Playbook: Step 4-Cybersecurity

Now that you have completed Step 4 in the AMA Digital Health Implementation Playbook, continue with Step 5: Making the Case. You can also go back to Step 3: Defining Success, or visit the playbook main page to review all 12 steps.

AMA Digital Health Implementation Playbook

Download the Playbook to review all 12 steps to implement and scale remote patient monitoring in practice.