Much like any relationship, the partnership between health systems and vendors can only last if it’s mutually beneficial — in other words, if both parties are getting what they need.
The challenge, for many vendors, is in determining what qualities CIOs and other leaders value most – and being able to deliver on those. Below, we’ve compiled some thoughts from influential leaders that help shed light on the big question: What do health IT leaders want out of the relationship?
Understanding our world
Of the many companies we contract with, a handful qualify as what we would consider a true partner. And I’d like to think we are a partner to them. These are companies whose products/services are often core to our business model, and they have demonstrated, with actions beyond words, that they are walking this mile with us. That is, they have taken the time to understand our world, know our people, discern our challenges and brainstorm with us to effectively cure our headaches.
They might invite us to their headquarters to learn more about their direction while asking us to present our roadmap. They come onsite to see our world firsthand, and to connect the technology to the patient experience. And, when things go wrong (and they always do at some point), they step up to do the hard work.
–Lee Milligan, MD, former CIO & CMIO, Asante
I believe in full transparency. I always tell my vendors when we first get on the call that I’m not looking for a vendor; I’m looking for a partner, and that partner needs to offer something up. And if they’re not willing to be partners, there’s enough competition out there that we can look for someone else.
–Darrell Bodnar, CIO, North Country Healthcare
An extension of the organization
From my perspective, a vendor is looking for a sale. They’re looking to sell a product and pitch things that may not be a good fit for us — or may not even be relevant. A partner, on the other hand, is a key extension of our organization. A partner is somebody that’s going to be at the table with us. They’re looking at our challenges. They’re looking at what we’re attempting to do on our roadmap, and helping us to think outside of the box or come up with a creative way to address a problem. A partner is going to help us to achieve our organizational objectives.
–Tom Barnett, Chief Information and Digital Officer, Baptist Memorial Health Care
Eye toward the future
Plain and simple, there are a lot of vendors — and this has been the case for many years — that promise a lot of things and don’t deliver. In the adaptive risk program, we’re not only looking at cultural fit, but we’re also looking at vendor fit. In other words, are you going to be a really good fit for what we’re trying to do here? Don’t tell me what you think you’re going to do in two years; I want to know what you’re doing now to get there.
It’s all about the future state. It’s about working really fast; it’s not about continuing adding staffing to solve problems. It’s about how do we go faster? How do we reduce friction for us and increase friction for the adversary? How do we get there?
–Ron Mehring, CISO, Texas Health Resources
“We were looking for a true partnership with our vendor, and some maneuverability. As a critical access hospital, we don’t know what the future holds for us. We hope to stay strong, and so one of the key things we look for is to maintain our IT costs at a sustainable level.”
–Kate Pierce, CIO/CISO, North Country Hospital