Eugene Khazan, Founder & CEO, BraveLeaf LLC
Buying software for your facility is not a one-time transaction, it's an ongoing relationship that begins before deployment and continues for the life of the product. Unlike many simpler products, it is imperative that electronic record systems not only have the desired functionality, but also deliver it in a way that is compatible with user's workflow. Therefore, purchase decisions should come down to not just a checklist of features, but also a comprehensive vendor evaluation. Make sure they have domain expertise in your market segment and can be a trusted long-term partner that will support your changing needs in the future.
How much does your software vendor know about your needs?
Many software companies are tempted to expand into adjacent markets, but lack the dedication to understand them. Medical record needs for assisted living facilities are not the same as for skilled facilities; skilled facility needs are different from those for hospitals. Systems that are built for pharmacies will not prove useful to facilities that are served by them. Make sure you represent the core market segment for your software vendor. Doing so will increase the odds of them bringing relevant expertise to the project and will make the whole process go smoother, faster and yield higher quality results.
Does the software support your specific workflow?
One size does not fit all when it comes to electronic record systems. Organization size, local regulations, and type of care provided account for large variations in workflow and necessitate different software. A 20 bed facility does things differently than a 120 bed facility. A standalone facility is different than one that is part of a chain that provides the full continuum of care. Regulations in your state are different than the ones next door. Higher acuity levels will also require more comprehensive recordkeeping features that will actually be counterproductive for lower acuity facilities. Make sure your software vendor is capable of conducting a detailed workflow analysis to confirm that their solution fits your needs. If there are gaps, make sure you have a plan to address them before you sign on the dotted line.
What happens when your needs change?
Your needs WILL change. New team assignments, new regulations, and new internal process improvement initiatives - they will all potentially require new or expanded software functionality. Some software vendors will push you to purchase a new version of their software; some will charge substantial professional service fees to address your feature requests. Some may even be tone deaf to your requests because you are not part of their target market. The best software providers will jump on the opportunity to improve their offering by working with you to expand the functionality of their products.
The secret to long term success is selecting a software vendor who specializes in your market segment, conducting a comprehensive workflow analysis at the start of the engagement, and structuring a relationship that correctly aligns your incentives for long term.