You’ve selected a vendor and are now ready to officially engage them. The following information will help you to get the most out of this step.
Vendor Engagement Process
The vendor engagement process is quite straightforward, not unlike the engagement of any other technology vendor.
- Support Structure
Vendor Engagement Tips & Tricks
- References: Nothing provides you more insight into a vendor’s performance than in-depth conversations with peers at other organizations that have been with the vendor where you are now. Ask the vendor for references and follow up with them in an honest conversation.
- Ask them what they like and what they don’t like about the vendor
- Ask them about the vendor’s support performance
- Ask them about the process and effort around upgrades or maintenance.
- Ask them about the learning curve - maybe even arrange to talk to a few users, maybe even facilitate a user to user conversation.
- Ask them for tips on how to most effectively “manage” this vendor.
- Cost: To understand all one-time and recurring cost (including annual fees, such as maintenance fees) ask the sales-person for a 3-year “total cost of ownership” calculation.
- Implementation Process: You’ll also want to understand how the vendor will roll out the technology, so you can realistically gauge the effort on your end. Will the vendor come onsite? How long does a typical deployment last? What will the vendor’s staff do and what is expected of your staff?
- Support: Make sure you understand the support options available to you. Some vendors offer support directly to patients. Some only offer Level 3 support. Determine your need for support access and understand the cost associated with the support you need.
- Training: Does your vendor offer training on their solution? How do they suggest new users learn the solution? Is training or orientation even necessary? Do they have self-study tutorials (e.g., online courses)? Are there any cost associated?
- Access to Vendor’s Leadership: As you grow and evolve your program, access to the vendor’s leadership may be critical to ensure continued success. See if you can develop that relationship early and and make certain their leadership understands and are aligned with your mission and goals.
- Hosting & Security: Many technologies are hosted in the cloud and since PHI may be transmitted or stored you need to understand how the vendor safeguards the information (of course you already checked their HIPAA compliance when you evaluated the vendor).