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● Think Tank Effective IT purchasing

What top-of-line issues comprise, challenge eff ective hardware, soſt ware purchasing?

By Rick Dana Barlow

When the trade publication Computers In Healthcare debuted in 1980, hospitals and other healthcare facilities already were hip deep in information technology – albeit with closet-sized, clunky mainframes from pioneering com- panies largely out of the business today. With the advent of diagnosis-related groups (DRGs), managed care and two healthcare reformations roughly two decades apart, that publication, now known as Health Management Technology, has chronicled business and clinical operations by desktop personal computers, laptops, notebooks, hand-held personal digital assistants and now smartphones and tablet PCs.

During the meteoric rise and global acceptance and adoption of IT in that more than three-decade span of de- velopment, healthcare organizations, by and large, had to perform the same, if not similar, due diligence in evaluating, selecting and purchasing IT products.

In fact, in healthcare these days IT is just about as ubiquitous as, say, air. To keep pace with performance improvement initiatives,

provider IT professionals must know what’s needed, make fast but detailed decisions and avoid mistakes. But is there a reliable formula for purchasing IT success? The variables can resemble some of the parameters Sup- ply Chain faces when purchasing products for the entire organization. They include such components and consider- ations as product price, ongoing maintenance and service, updates and upgrades, interfacing and integration with existing or new systems, overall ease of use and nimbleness to operations and, fi nally, relevance to the organization’s mission, vision, fi nances and operations. Yet each facility may stress all of these variables in a

different order. As a result, HMT posed to nearly a dozen healthcare IT executives fundamental questions about the basics of purchasing IT effectively.

What do you believe should be the top consideration for effective IT purchasing?

Alan Stein, M.D., Ph.D., Vice President, Healthcare Technology, HP Autonomy

Stein: [What you list] are all important considerations, but their priority may vary by organizations depending on particular circumstances. For example, some providers may be migrating [electronic medical record] systems and are attuned to consolidation of multiple systems. Others that are embark- ing on a data warehouse strategy will have very data-centric priorities. Others may be sensitive to the availability of professional services that can tailor and maintain their deployments.

Regardless of the relative diff erences, substantial thought must go into how well the solution addresses organizational needs over time, and how well can it overcome the various bar- riers to adoption that any new technology must face. Another important consideration will be industry-specifi c components that can signifi cantly reduce the amount of professional services required to achieve the business objectives.

4 July 2014

Bird Blitch, CEO, Patientco

Blitch: Overall ease of use and nimbleness is certainly a top consideration for eff ective IT purchasing. Consider this: Budget season is over. T e hospital board has asked you, once again, to do more with less. T e department needs to produce 20 percent more with 15 percent less resources to do so. Does this sound familiar? With this type of consideration at the top

of everyone’s minds, it’s important to have a non-disruptive solution to help with the workfl ow. Cloud-based technology platforms oftentimes off er these types of advantages – for ex- ample, they can be easily turned on or off by the simple way the technology stack is built. Healthcare executives should keep overall ease of use at the front of mind so that their teams will be grateful, the board will be satisfi ed and you can sleep better at night.

Andy Saffarian, Senior Manager, Healthcare Vertical Marketing, Samsung Enterprise Business Division


Saffarian: T ere are a multitude of consider- ations to eff ective IT deployments, from in- tegration into existing systems to identifying the right partner(s) to ensure ongoing main- tenance and support. We encourage providers to look carefully at total cost of ownership (TCO) and alignment with their overarching enterprise architecture strategy and direction in selecting any new products and services. TCO encompasses price, integration and

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