Pricing is inevitably one of the top questions that every buyer seeks when researching potential healthcare policy and procedure management systems. Cost plays a key factor in any purchase decision whether it’s running shoes, a car or a business purchase like a healthcare policy management system. Everyone has corporate fiscal responsibility for spending company funds wisely and typically there are budget restrictions to consider on every purchase.
So why is pricing rarely disclosed up front for business solutions? If I want to purchase a pair of running shoes online, I can go to Amazon or do any Google search and find pricing within seconds.
Well, the truth is there is much more complexity involved in purchasing a business solution than a pair of running shoes. Yes, you conduct your own research and even find peer reviews on sites like Capterra, for freed! This tool allows you to compare apples to apples and offers you the ability to consider multiple factors beyond just the cost so that you can feel confident in your decision. As not all solutions are priced the same, nor are the capabilities, features, and functionality offered. It’s essential to develop your own “must-have” list and then evaluate the potential solutions based on the list.
So, before you ask “How much does it cost?”, ask yourself, what is the cost of doing nothing? What if we stay with our current solution, what is the cost of missed opportunity? Can we streamline our accreditation and compliance processes to more effectively manage on-site surveys with our existing system? Can we enhance staff productivity and improve patient safety? What if one of our emergency nurses could find a policy at 2:00 AM in the emergency room within seconds? How would that impact the patient experience, patient quality, and employee satisfaction? Legacy solutions might be good enough, but what if you were less focused on price and more focused on the many benefits a modern web-based solution could deliver within your organization. What if the cost of the new system offsets the missed costs of operational efficiencies, staff productivity, patient safety, and accreditation readiness.
Once you have addressed these questions internally, then ask the vendor to address these eight factors to be better informed and to avoid having buyer’s remorse.
1. Flexibility and Scalability
“Is the solution future-proof?” This should be your first question. Does the solution provide the capability to scale with the future growth of your facility or system, and does the solution have the flexibility to change as your needs evolve? Having the flexibility for the solution to scale with your business will ensure that you are not embarking down this same path of looking for another solution within a year or two.
Some solutions provide features such as:
♣ Auto-Circulation which allows policies to be easily circulated from corporate to multiple sites to ensure that everyone is implementing the same policies to maintain compliance with CMS regulations. Sharing policies quickly and easily system-wide improves productivity and ensures staff is able to deliver quality care in-line with corporate compliance.
♣ Document Template Exchange Server allows best practice templates to be available to other sites. Users can access and download the templates to maintain consistency, minimize errors and duplication of efforts and realize substantial productivity gains. For example, you can create HIPAA Policies & Procedures templates with your unique folder structure such as IT, Security, PHI, etc. and share with others at remote sites.
Being able to leverage the flexibility to scale the creation and distribution of policies and procedures quickly and easily vastly improves operational efficiency.
2. Ease of use and fast access
Getting users to adopt new ways of doing things or new technologies can be a daunting task. User adoption is one of the most critical factors in technology deployment failures. Being able to provide users with quick, easy access to the new platform is key to increasing user acceptance. With an Active Directory interface like LDAP or SAML, single sign-on allows users to access the policy management system with their existing network user ID’s and passwords.
3. Linking Policies with Standards
In a highly regulated market like healthcare, having an interface built into the policy management system that allows policies to be directly mapped to the appropriate regulation or standard streamlines the entire accreditation process ensuring your facility is always compliance and audit-ready. With email notifications, accreditation and compliance managers can be alerted when a standard has been updated or changed so the corresponding policy can be updated accordingly and distributed to frontline staff.
So, you want to ask the vendor if they offer the ability to map or crosswalk policies directly to the accreditation agencies like The Joint Commission, College of American Pathologists (CAP), HFAP, and/or DNV? Does the platform provide email notifications and is pricing structured per accreditation standard or is there a flat annual fee to access all of the standards?
Here’s where you want to make sure that you are comparing apples to apples as some vendors charge on the size of the organization, some on full-time employees and some on full-time equivalent.
For example, PolicyMedical’s pricing model is based on the size of an organization. We calculate the number of Full-Time Employees to help determine the size of a healthcare organization. A hospital with less than 150 Full-Time Employees (FTE) falls under our lowest pricing threshold of $3000 per year, where if a healthcare organization has 150-500 FTE, the cost is $20/FTE/Year. As the number of FTE increases, the price per FTE decreases at various levels. In this case, the annual fee includes the PolicyManager software, as well as the maintenance and updates to the software and unlimited customer support.
Always, be sure to ask for a comprehensive quote with all of the inclusions and exclusions.
5. Training & Implementation
Training and implementation is another area that you want to make sure you ask lots of questions about as you want to ensure that you have access to the right training and deployment resources possible. Remember, the number one reason that technology deployments fail is lack of user adoption, so you want to make sure that system training is available to all system administrators, power users, and general users. Training should be offered in-classroom and virtual. You should have the option to choose the best approach for your team.
A few questions that you should ask:
♣ Are we assigned a Project Manager who will walk us through every step of the implementation?
♣ Will the Project Manager be setting up a project plan and ongoing weekly or bi-weekly conference calls with our team?
♣ Based on previous experiences, do you have communication templates and materials that we can leverage internally to help spread the word about our exciting new project?
♣ Is there a fee for implementation and training? What factors are involved in the fee structure?
You want to invest in a platform that provides a Client Success team who collaborates with you to go through the entire onboarding process to help set-up and configure the system to run efficiently and to help ensure a smooth transition from your existing system to the new system. Again, taking into consideration user adoption.
We offer both online and onsite training options for our audience members, depending on their specific needs. The one-time fee for implementation and training depend on factors such as the size of the organization, number of facilities, and number of users that require training.
6. Professional Services
Whether you are a small facility or a healthcare system, bandwidth is always a concern given resources are limited. When evaluating potential systems and the additional services vendors offer, whether you think you don’t need them today, it is always a good practice to ask how extensive the professional or concierge services offerings are – what is included, what is not included, and the fees associated with these services.
Today you may not see a need for additional help; however, you could find yourself in the midst of a merger and acquisition and need assistance with merging policies system-wide and replacing logos. Or you may need to augment your existing resources by leveraging services for some custom development work.
A few questions you need to ask:
♣ Do you offer professional services?
♣ What is the fee structure?
♣ Is it a one-time fee?
♣ Do you offer a service for document clean-up and rebranding?
♣ Do you provide a Policy Writing service?
♣ Who delivers these services?
♣ What are the team’s credentials?
7. User Licences
It is important to understand what type of platform your organization is seeking as a cloud-based solution is different than an on-site server-based solution. Again, as we compare apples to apples, you need to understand the differences between these solutions and the overall costs associated with deployment.
A web-based application allows for an unlimited number of user licenses (what is often referred to as “Enterprise Licensing”) and allows for an unlimited number of documents. It is important to note that not all vendors offer all the features or functionality and may not allow for an unlimited number of documents.
Some vendors are not web-based and are hosted on the hospital servers. This requires more IT resources from the client to assist with set-up and maintenance. And if the vendor needs to make changes or updates to the software on the hospital server, this will mean that the hospital IT staff needs to be involved in allowing the controlled access to the server.
A few questions to ask:
♣ Is the system web-based or server-based?
♣ Does the system support unlimited documents?
♣ How should we budget for infrastructure costs to support the system?
♣ Are additional servers required?
♣ Is a team of IT resources required to support the system?
♣How do users access a web-based system?
Bottomline: You Get What You Pay For
Pricing is often the biggest hurdle to overcome when getting approval and sign-off for the adoption of a new web-based healthcare policy and procedure management solution. CEOs and CFOs want to feel confident that there is value in the latest software and that the return on investment is compelling.
Therefore, It is important to remember that cheap comes with trade-offs. Buying a solution only based on price might address your budgetary concerns today, but it may not offer the flexibility and scalability that your organization requires long term.
Also, the cheapest might mean you are purchasing the platform only with no means for additional support in the form of product training and professional services.
Four other factors to consider when purchasing a technology platform:
1. Product roadmap – what are the future plans for the product?
2. Peer validation – seek out and speak to your peers who are already using the product or go to third-party review sites like Capterra and G2 Crowd to see what others are saying
3. Customer support – how responsive is the support team?
4. Market experience – how many deployments and customers are using the platform? Does the vendor have extensive experience in healthcare and with hospitals and healthcare systems the same size as our facility?
Choosing the Right Policy Management Platform for You
Don’t let pricing be the only guiding factor in your search for the right policy and procedure management platform. Consider all the key elements and make sure you are comparing apples to apples or oranges to oranges.
Be thorough in your due diligence, ask vendors for peer reviews and references. And remember the question “How much does it cost?” is not always as simple as providing a dollar amount. Be sure to take a look under the hood, and take the time for an in-depth discussion to ensure the vendor understands your immediate and future needs.
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