After months of preparation, entering into the tender for any large-scale technology project can be a daunting experience. To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the bidding process, organizations with electronic health record (EHR) projects going to tender can prepare to ensure smooth and efficient evaluation by focusing on four key factors: Allowing for flexibility, thinking beyond Go-Live, planning for staff attrition and embracing partnerships along the way.
Allow for Tender Evaluation Flexibility
First and foremost, my number one piece of advice would be to allow for flexibility in revising requirements and scoring as you progress through the tender process. Many international groups are in the difficult position where they haven’t previously embarked on a project of this size, scale and cost. I’ve often seen groups in this situation lean on RFPs from different industries in their country or region of a similar scale. However, this comes with risk.
The challenge with this approach is that many of these contracts are truly for the delivery of a specification. For example, consider the procurement of a large construction project. Imagine specifying how you’d like it designed – the size of the rooms, the types of windows to install, the style of staircase, the finishings, etc. – without input from an architect. Pretty daunting, right? Then, think about trying to do that if there were no other homes like this for you to look at and draw ideas from!
It’s understandable and commonplace that these groups will need to bake requirements into their tender, but it’s critical that flexibility is also built in so that they can adjust as they understand what kind of EHR that is needed for the organization. A group may think they have a firm requirement based on the way business is done today, but by putting in that requirement they may be asking for a subpar solution relative to what an EHR can support when they move to an integrated solution. Allow your RFP respondents to illustrate, through writing and demonstration, alternate solutions for your users. Allow for the flexibility to adjust requirements if they lead to cost savings, better alignment with best practices and help to avoid custom build or developments that can become increasingly difficult to support with new versions and upgrades.
Go Beyond Go-Live
Next, put plans in place that allow you to nurture your EHR and stay current rather than just “keeping the lights on.” I’ve seen organizations experience the pain of rolling off staff very shortly after they go live with their EHR. Going live is really just the start of your EHR journey. While you can often maintain your EHR system with a lower contingent of staff than is required during implementation, you have to be careful with how quickly you do that. Once end users have the opportunity to use the system for the first time, that will often drive projects, requests and areas of focus for the team. If you set up a contract structure or planned attrition too close to your go-live event(s), you can run the risk of not being able to meet this demand and associated user satisfaction. In turn, there can be different long-term staffing profiles provided by vendors. With all vendors in the tender process, make sure that the staff profile and plan reflects a model to stay current and achieve the long-term goals of your healthcare organization.
Plan for Attrition
Healthcare organizations need to expect the unexpected. Whether it’s forms of leave, losing staff to other neighboring projects, unexpected attrition or desired attrition, these things will happen and happen on every implementation. The key is to have a plan ready in order to quickly recruit and place the right type of staff when attrition occurs. Without that, if even one piece of the foundation of your home starts to break and is left unattended, it can end up toppling the whole home! Following attrition, those members that remain on the team often end up being the next to leave. After all, you can only expect an employee to carry the weight of the work on their shoulders for so long.
Lock Arms for Success
Partner with your EHR vendor, clinical leadership and any partner organizations to establish critical success factors up front that you will require for your end users. Learn from those experts and peers that have gone before you to understand things that they wish they had done. For example, if you knew that there was a direct correlation between personalizing your EHR workspace prior to going live, would you want to set the bar to require it? There’s an array of actions like this that can increase your likelihood of success if you consider them from the start of your implementation.
In short, it pays to take the time to have plans in place, based on expertise built on previous experience, that can allow for long term success as organizations see their EHR projects going to tender.
Do you need help maintaining your EHR project going to tender? Click here to learn how Medix Technology delivers solutions and specialists to keep your project on track.
David Fraser is Head of Implementation Planning at Medix Technology. After starting his career at Epic, he gained experience working with a variety of global health systems going to procurement or implementing an EHR, including work in the UK, Nordic countries, Singapore, Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Vietnam and UAE.