When it comes to healthcare analytics solutions, there are a lot of different options out there. How do you know which solution and healthcare vendor is the right fit for your organization?
As with any big purchase — either professional or personal in nature — it pays to do your research. What should you be asking as you’re examining solutions and vendors? Here are 4 questions that are key to the selection process.
Does the solution integrate sources from multiple systems?
When you’re looking for healthcare analytics, there are different types of solutions on the market.
- Point products analyze the data in one system (such as your EHR)
- Enterprise analytics platforms can integrate data from multiple source systems
If you’re only looking to do analysis on the data in one system, it might make sense to use a point product. But if you’re like most hospitals, you’ll want to gain insight across your organization, and that involves not just looking at data in your EHR, but integrating that with other data across your system. (And if you’re a health system resulting from mergers of different hospitals, that might involve integrating data from multiple EHRs — which is something the EHR analytics can’t do on its own.) In that case, you’ll want to purchase an enterprise analytics platform. Implementing multiple point products doesn’t make sense from a financial standpoint, and you’re probably going to want to integrate data from different source systems to get the most powerful insights.
Does the vendor know the healthcare industry?
The healthcare industry is highly complex, and in order to see improved outcomes and maximize your return on investment, you need to work with a team that understands the ins and outs of the industry and the challenges you are facing.
How can you find vendors that know healthcare? Taking a look at the vendors that KLAS Research rates is a good first step. KLAS speaks to healthcare organizations about the different software solutions they use and not only rates them each year in the Best in KLAS report, but also maintains a portal with live rankings. In order to include vendors as “fully rated” in a category, KLAS needs to speak to at least 15 customer organizations.
From there, you can attend healthcare trade shows such as HIMSS to meet with exhibiting vendors. But just because a vendor is at HIMSS does not mean they have the expertise you need; it just means they have the money to exhibit. Seeking out sources such as KLAS or asking analysts from organizations such as Gartner can help you develop a short list of the right vendors to meet with and learn more.
Does the vendor have a track record of success?
If you’re looking at the KLAS data in particular, there are a few key areas you’ll want to examine to narrow in on which vendors you might want to talk to. First, see if a vendor has a track record of success in the KLAS ratings. This would involve looking back several years at the data. While some vendors may perform well for a year or two when they are new in a category because of heightened expectations, often times their ratings fall when customer organizations are expecting results that they aren’t seeing yet. Vendors that are consistently performing well in the ratings over a period of several years are following through on results and helping customers see improved outcomes.
Next, you can dive in on some of the particular questions that KLAS asks healthcare organizations. One important question that helps you figure out whether a vendor has a track record of success is: does the vendor keep all promises? This will help you weed out those vendors that say they’ll do something but never follow through.
You’ll also want to examine the question on whether a vendor drives tangible outcomes. Again, this will establish whether a vendor helps you get the results you’re looking for.
How does the company treat its people?
If you’re wondering how a company will treat you as a customer, it’s worth looking at how they treat their employees — after all, we are all people. In addition, when there is value created within the company, it’s worth examining who is the beneficiary of that value?
When a company receives an infusion of VC money, that can be great for company growth and getting things up and running quickly. But there can be downsides to you as the customer. For starters, it means the vendor is often in rapid hire mode, meaning the staff who are working with you are often unfamiliar with the product and you are their testing ground.
In addition, when times are tough, there are often big layoffs with VC-backed or public companies, which means the staff you’re working with on your analytics initiatives can quickly change. That’s because the value created within the company is primarily for the benefit of the investors, not for the customers or employees. It changes the calculus of how decisions are made.
Here are some questions you can explore that will give you a better idea as to a vendor’s values and how it treats its employees:
- What is the average tenure of employees?
- How much turnover is there among staff, particularly among those who are customer-facing?
- How much volatility is there in headcount over a multi-year period?
- Is the company profitable?
When you’re selecting a healthcare analytics vendor, there are many resources that can help you out. The key is to map out your objectives and develop a short list of the vendors you think can help you meet those objectives. Then ask the tough questions of each of those companies. Are they healthcare experts? Do they have a track record of success? How does the company treat people? The answers to these questions will help you narrow down your choices to the right partner for your needs.