Before embarking down the road of next steps, start the process with the end in mind. The outcome of this exercise is to get everyone in the same vehicle; reading the same map; arriving at the same destination.
Create a clear vision of how your future results and vendor relationship will look. What will turnaround time, quality, vendor responsiveness, and technology look like? How will you interact with vendor personnel? What are your expectations for the vendor’s account manager? Will you have a working relationship with the management team of the vendor? How do your criteria align with your manager’s, support staff, IT, providers and administration?
With your road map in place, now you want to start evaluating your vendor options. This process can be daunting.
Consider the crayon analogy before you begin looking at vendors. Do you remember the first time you saw a 64-pack of crayons? I can. It even had a sharpener in the front of the box. It didn’t take too long to realize that, although the variety of colors was impressive, I spent most of my time with the foundational red, green, blue, yellow and brown.
When you start reviewing vendor options, it’s much the same; there are a whole host of options but by keeping your focus on your final destination, you’ll narrow your options down to the few that fit your color palette.
If you haven’t already done so, now is the time to formalize and structure a comprehensive vendor comparison checklist. Your vision and the input you’ve received from your stakeholders are the foundational elements of this checklist. In addition to turnaround time, quality, responsiveness, and technology, include KLAS rating, guarantees, recommendations, domestic work force, security, 24/7 coverage, and your other must-haves. This checklist will provide an objective means of evaluating your options.
With your vendor analysis completed, the final and most important element to consider is transparency. Who do you trust? And don’t just consider the sales person. Step back and take a look at the entire vendor organization. Do you have an overall positive sense of trust and comfort with the people and the organization’s ability to meet your criteria?
Consider these three important questions:
- Will this vendor improve the delivery of patient care?
- Will this vendor fit in and serve as an extension of your facility’s HIM team?
- If you picked up the phone, would you feel comfortable contacting the vendor owner, head of operations, technology director, and account manager?
And most importantly, stay focused on your final destination. Sharpen your favorite crayon and be on your way to improving the delivery and safety of patient information.
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