Ten Great Behaviors of the Best Healthcare IT Vendors

DaleSandersFrom a CIO’s Viewpoint

By Dale Sanders, Senior VP at Health Catalyst
Twitter: @drsanders

I’ve been a CIO in various forms for 22 years and a vendor in various forms for nine years of my 30+ year IT career. Those who know me as a CIO know that I have high expectations from healthcare IT vendors and partnerships. Now that I’m on the vendor side of healthcare IT, I hold our company and myself to those same high levels of expectations.

Without further ado, here are the ten behaviors of great healthcare IT vendors:

  1. Help Me Compete:  Help me build my “Annual Report for Information Technology” as if my IT organization were a separate, standalone business that could be outsourced.
  2. Help Me Hire:  The market for healthcare IT employees has never been more competitive. If you know I’m having a hard time recruiting for a critical position that is important to the success of your product in my organization, help me find a great match.
  3. Help Me Measure:  The Age of Analytics in healthcare is just beginning. Our industry is way behind in the proper use of data to drive costs down and quality up. Help me address my short-term analytic needs, but do so within the scope of a longer-term strategy.
  4. Help Me Save: Simplify your licensing, billing, and contract administration. Make it as easy as possible for me to manage my expenses with you, and especially make it easy to predict and budget for increases in prices due to inflation, increased number of users, transactions, etc. When you give me a new contract to sign, put a face sheet on it that summarizes the key issues and terms – don’t make me read 15 pages of legal jargon. Likewise, if you know of a creative way for me to reduce licensing fees, try to be motivated by our long-term relationship instead of your immediate potential loss of commission. You will win more of my business, easily.
  5. Help Me Listen: Be proactive in extracting the ROI and value from your products. Help me look good and thus make your product look good, too. If you know that I’m under-utilizing your products or have them configured improperly in some way, pester me until I fix it. I’m busy and juggle lots of priorities. Be the squeaky wheel until I listen.
  6. Help Me Expand: Annual conferences and blogs are not enough for me to keep up with everything going on in healthcare right now. Help me build close relationships with a limited number (three to four) of peers or mentors who have a similar organization, product mix, and profile so we can learn from one another. Force us to meet and hold a conference call every once in a while. Facilitate the meetings. Help us reuse strategies, policies, and technology as much as possible.
  7. Help Me Plan and Innovate: Help me build my strategic roadmap by overlaying the needs and culture of my organization with your products and the future outlook of the industry. Look ahead for me and pester me until I build that roadmap with you. I am particularly concerned about the growing sophistication of cyber-attacks. And I’m also concerned that I’m not leveraging mobile computing as well as I could. Push me on these two issues, please.
  8. Help Me Migrate: Help me build the cheapest, safest, quickest path to ACO and ICD-10 adoption for my company and critical partners in the insurance industry.
  9. Help Me Prove:  Help me build the cheapest, safest, quickest path to Meaningful Use qualification for my company, and don’t charge me anything extra, because this is something you should have done for every customer a long time ago. The Meaningful Use legislation forced it but, like HIPAA, we should have been doing this all along.
  10. Help Me Evolve:  ACOs are coming; one way or another. Even if they are nebulous right now, we know that there are certain characteristics that will survive. In particular, you better have a product strategy for both engaging patients in greater accountability for their own care and the changes in cost accounting and revenue cycle required for managing the risk of bundled payments.

And there you have the top 10 behaviors of healthcare IT vendor that I have personally appreciated in the past as a CIO and now attempt to practice as a vendor.

About the Author: Dale Sanders is a Senior VP at Health Catalyst (@Health Catalyst). Prior to his healthcare experience, Dale Sanders worked for fourteen years in the military, national-intelligence, and manufacturing sectors, specializing in analytics and decision support. In addition to his role at Health Catalyst, he continues to serve as the senior technology advisor and CIO for the National Health System in the Cayman Islands. Dale is a founder of the Healthcare Data Warehousing Association. This article was originally published on Health Catalyst and is republished here with permission.