Healthcare News & Insights

Buying new technology for your hospital? 4 questions for smart shopping

Hospitals have turned to emerging technologies to solve old problems and improve their operations. But not all new technology is as great as it’s advertised to be. Here are some questions to ask to figure out if your potential buy is a solid choice. 

451666575A lot of technology geared toward hospitals gets lauded for how it can help facilities improve workflow, save money and improve care quality. That’s all well and good, but just because a vendor advertises a technology is a great tool doesn’t guarantee it’s a great solution your hospital can effectively use — or even needs.

The issue is being able to see through advertising smoke screens to really evaluate a technology’s pros and cons.

Thankfully, Dr. David Scher, a healthcare consultant with DLS Healthcare Consulting, has written some tips on how prospective buyers can shop smartly and avoid getting fooled by advertised promises.

Getting the most bang for your buck?

Here are four questions you can ask to get a true picture of what a technology can do for you:

1. Does it solve a specific problem?

This might seem like a no-brainer, but it’s still a valid question to consider. In particular it’s important to consider what problem a technology is supposedly going to solve. Administrators should question if there’s an alternative solution that doesn’t involve spending their scarce resources on a new technology.

2. Does it fit well with your operations and processes?

Buying a new technology isn’t just about what the product can do on its own. It’s also important to consider the people and operations which will use that new technology in their day-to-day work.

Once you purchase a new technology you’ll have to train your staff to use it, consider if policies or human resource requirements will have to change because of it and possibly restructure workflow to include the technology in your regular operations.

New technology can have a negative and a positive impact on your operations, which will need to be analyzed pre-purchase. For example: If a new electronic health record (EHR) system gives you more security, but decreases physician efficiency and time with patients because the system is difficult to operate — is that a wise purchase?

3. Has it had positive results in testing?

Before buying a new technology, it’s crucial to see how that technology fared in quality tests — assuming it was tested at all.

Seeing what kind of testing a technology has been through and what the results were, gives you a great picture of how the tech will function on a practical level. Finding out if a technology was tested for efficiency, user satisfaction and/or clinical impact is the best way to make sure small bugs and kinks have been worked out and that you’ll get the most bang for your buck.

4. Who was involved in making it?

Vendors who had good partnerships in creating the technology will usually a have sense of what the technology can really do and who it will best benefit. Not having any partners involved in the creation process leaves a lot of questions up in the air about whether or not your needs and concerns were taken into consideration during the technology’s development.

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