5 Guidelines for Keeping Tech Purchases Purposeful

Posted by Brenda Aubin RN BSN on July 5, 2017

Keeping healthcare technology up-to-date in hospitals istech_guidelines.jpg necessary to expand services, cut costs, recruit the best medical talent, and improve clinical workflows as well as patient outcomes and experience. But determining the best purchasing processes for these crucial tech tools is one of the most challenging decisions hospital leaders face. 

With so many needs to meet and razor-thin margins to consider, hospital administrators can find themselves paralyzed by the sheer number of options.

As our president, Frank Grant, said in a previous post “The problem isn’t necessarily the technology itself. The problem can be having too much of a good thing. The patchwork of technologies created by multiple purchases over a number of years is not only complex, but frustrating to use and expensive to maintain.”

The lack of interoperability in medical software and devices complicates the decision to adopt new technologies. Adding more technology, without a deliberate and careful analysis of the clinical and financial return on investment, will inevitably result in failure.

“Hospitals don’t just need more technology,” Grant says. “They need the right technology that will improve patient experience and outcomes, is cost-effective and built for the future.” 

The good news is there are solid principles hospitals can follow to keep technology purchases purposeful. Here are five guidelines to help with decision-making: 

1. Be Mission-Minded and Data-Driven

Any new technology must align with a hospital’s strategic direction and mission. The best decision-making is informed by the needs of the patient population served. A hospital’s ability to meet those needs should be the driving criteria for adding new technologies. 

Often the loudest voices are persuasive, and the shiniest objects drive discussion. Decision-makers can quiet the noise by first consulting clinical-based evidence to quantify the benefits of any new technology addition. Successful hospitals adhere closely to their mission and use the best data they can compile to weigh the options.

2. Focus on Technology Built for the Future

Successful hospitals are focused on new and better ways to address clinical and business challenges. They don’t view disruptive technologies as threatening. They are willing to analyze alternatives to current platforms, especially for woefully outdated legacy systems. 

Nurse call systems are a fitting example. Hospitals may purchase the latest, greatest system, but then be forced to strap on several middleware products to realize the system’s full functionality. It’s more efficient to have a unified system with all the necessary tools folded in to best serve patients.

3. Engage Clinical Staff in Decision-making

Involving clinicians and nurses in technology purchasing decisions is smart for several reasons. Chief among them is the fact that clinicians must embrace adoption of the technology to make the purchase worthwhile.

New technologies can help optimize clinical outcomes and workflows, cut costs and increase satisfaction among clinical staff, as well as help hospitals attract talented doctors and nurses.

Hospital leaders can provide an enterprise-wide perspective on how implementing certain technologies benefits the entire facility. But they often need input from clinicians to get a granular understanding of what technologies are actually needed. 

In many hospitals, medical devices are ordered unnecessarily. Hospital administrators may buy too many infusion pumps, for example, when the real problem comes from the clinical staff not knowing where the pumps are stored. These are workflow and inventory issues that should be solved before a purchase is considered.

4. Prepare for Implementation and Training

Many healthcare technology vendors center their sales efforts around the features and benefits of their products. They paint a wonderful picture of what their products look like when they are up and running—at some distant point in the future—but if those products aren’t utilized to their fullest extent, hospitals won’t get their ROI.

Perceptive hospital administrators understand the key to successful technology adoption is implementation and training, and they develop a budget for this training. Even the best technology can’t deliver on all of its promised features unless clinical teams are trained to use them appropriately.

Hospital leaders should vet technology partners and evaluate the implementation experience of their products before ever signing a contract.

5. Distinguish Budgets for New Technology From Replacement Technology

Some hospitals have a single capital budget for technology that makes no distinction between new and replacement technologies. This kind of repair-and-replace mindset is limiting. 

Successful hospitals evaluate new technologies based on their ability to:
• Meet the challenges of delivering higher quality care more efficiently
• Add new and necessary lines of service for patients
• Attract top physician talent

Hospitals that structure their budget based on these principles invest in their mission. While they may have a reasonably adequate budget for replacement and upgrades, they also have the team, process and finances in place to ensure technology purposes are purposeful and will continue to pay off for years to come.

In the market for a next-generation nurse call system that gives you more bang for your buck? Schedule a free consultation with us to learn why our data-driven platform tops legacy nurse call systems in affordability, quality and convenience.

 

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