I was visiting a prospective hospital client recently in New York. The VP of Quality, whose job it was to part with significant capital dollars for hospital policy management software, asked me the following questions:
“Where is your client support…here or overseas?”
“Everything that you showed us today and checked off in our RFP actually works and are included in the product…right?”
Then she asked the question that revealed what all of our prospects have been REALLY asking, through similar questions:
“I don’t want to offend you, we’ve purchased a lot of other software over the years and I can’t count how many times we’ve been misled about product features and over promised in terms of the level of interaction the vendor will have with us. I’m just trying to see if I can trust what I am seeing is what we will get.”
“I wish there was some type of unbiased review that would tell us the pros and cons about all the main hospital policy management software vendors out there. This would help us make the decision as to who we’d like to build a long term relationship with and who we can trust.”
Well, Connie, this article is my effort to provide an objective source of information about the four other main hospital policy management software vendors. The approach is simple. I list the advantages and disadvantages of the other top hospital policy management software vendors…then leave you and your policy team to decide what’s the best fit.
Other Top Hospital Policy Management Software Vendors
Headquartered in Carmel, IN. The company was launched approximately 8 years ago. There are companies in the space that have been around longer. The solution is not in use by a large market share of larger health systems. Client base is comprised mainly of hospitals, clinics and health care organizations. The leadership and board of advisors of this company come from the healthcare sector in the Midwest of the United States which leads to a good knowledge of the issues around healthcare and policy management.
Product: Quick and easy to understand tools are included that allow employees to read a policy and acknowledge they have read the policy. The best practice in the sector is to currently have hospital policy management systems fully cloud based. This solution is web based in the sense that it is collocated at a data center. The search engine is strong and industry standard. The process of keeping track of who is in charge of a policy and when it is due for review along with notifying the person of when and what they need to do is automated. You have control over setting up various classes of users within the system and controlling what they get to do and what they do not get to do. The design and user interface of the application does not have the latest look, feel, and usability as cutting edge technology. This is important for both non-technical users as well as the new generation of health care staff that want clean designs and an uncluttered solution. This product serves up policies in HTML. With HTML converters the great thing is there should be no additional installations on users’ machines and load times of policies will be lightening fast. However converting documents to HTML is something most leading technology companies in the space have stopped doing as it significantly alters, shifts and compromises the formatting of policies. For example, text that is bolded, numbered, bulleted often has all of that formatting removed. Images, charts, and signatures in documents usually do not make it through the conversion process. The capability to house publicly available and proprietary accreditation data and provide the ability to link at a granular level to policies is becoming a must have for many organizations. This does not exist within this solution.
Customer Service: The style and culture of the organization lend itself well to personable customer service.
Cost: The pricing for this solution is designed to have everything included in one price. Bundling in this way does not account for the way that leading healthcare institutions budget for policy management systems. For organizations that are cost conscious, you are likely able to negotiate deeper discounts. As a newer company (compared to the others on this list), the strategy is to focus on organizations that are primarily price focused and not ROI or value focused. There is a one cost approach here (meaning no separate line items for training, implementation etc).
Stationed in Orlando, Fl. The client base and historical focus of this company has not been in healthcare. The client base and solution are targeted primarily to the law enforcement sector (i.e. – police agencies). The company’s values and culture geared towards working hard, playing hard and giving back to the community garners positive attention as several awards recognizing what a great place PowerDMS is to work have been won within their local city.
Product: This solution is one of a few that have started to provide the ability to link accreditation standards and regulatory data directly to policies. This is a huge time saver for most quality and compliance executives. The user interface and design are clean, elegant and simple. This is important for non-technical staff as well as the newer generation of healthcare employees that expect minimalistic interfaces with power under the hood. The ability to have employees read policies and acknowledge they have read it works well and is well reviewed by users of this system. Depending on state laws, digital signatures are permitted. This solution allows for digital signatures. It is all done with a user’s existing device and no additional hardware is required (i.e. – Topaz pen and screen hardware is not needed). Documents cannot be edited completely and securely within this application using MS Word. There is a colocation and offsite model to the product.
Service: The majority of the team’s implementation and servicing expertise is centered outside of the healthcare industry and primarily in the law enforcement industry.
Headquartered in Lake Oswego, OR. This company (Policy Technologies) has recently been acquired (24 months ago) by a private equity firm (finance institution). PolicyTech has gone through leadership and personnel changes due to this. They are now part of a group of 5 other solutions (hotline reporting, case management, online learning, awareness programs, third party risk management). These solutions could be bundled into a purchase but they are not technologically integrated into the policy management solution. The company services many verticals and is not focused primarily on healthcare. The company has arranged a few endorsements (i.e. – American Hospital Association) to improve the healthcare optics of their offering.
Product: The solution has a sophisticated and proprietary way of fully integrating MS Word and MS Excel. This leads to secure edits to documents without compromising version control. The engineering team is very strong and the solution is architected on an ASP.NET (Microsoft) framework. This vendor has the following must have functions that they deliver well – compliance and attestation and tracking, search, handling multimedia, reporting, email review notifications, role-based permissions. There is a large collection of policies and procedures that one can also use with the solution however many are not healthcare specific. The capability to house publicly available and proprietary accreditation data and provide the ability to link at a granular level to policies does not exist within this solution.
Service: This company and solution have good experience dealing with and servicing large-scale deployments.
Cost: The company is still on an old perpetual pricing model but is trying to offer a hosted pricing model which may cause confusion during the purchase. For example, for an organization with 3000 employees the first year setup would be approximately $25K-35K USD (this may or may not include training depending on the sales rep you are talking to). They are very aggressive to offer discounts from the initial conversation with them. The company is still offering an old pricing model for organizations that are hesitant of going to the cloud and still want non-patient information applications housed locally. For example, the on-site solution commands a higher cost upfront at 125K USD and the annual fee is 12K USD. They are very aggressive to offer discounts from the initial conversation with them.
The strength of the offerings are mainly in the professional services and consulting areas (such as policy template revision, interpretation of standards etc). The feature set of the solution that is offered tries to pattern that of PolicyTechnologies (now NAVEX) and even the product name of PolicyMedical’s solution (PolicyManager). MCN Healthcare would be a great compliment to another vendor’s technology if coupled with MCN’s consulting expertise and content. The team and company are focused on the healthcare sector. Many of the founding leadership had a clinical background. However, with recent leadership changes, this is no longer the case. There have been one to two CEO changes in the past 2 years.
Product: This company provides a valuable library of tangible content such as sample policies and procedures. However, there is a restriction as the content is hosted and owned by the company. There is a useful standalone tool that provides clients with regulatory and accreditation updates. The team will take it a step further and include their own interpretation of the standard or regulatory changes. This is a well-received tool. Recent changes to the solution require all policies to be in PDF and to be displayed in PDF. This is restrictive when it comes to editing documents (as PDF documents are not editable) and when it comes to viewing documents (as organizations that may not have enterprise-wide Adobe licenses). There is no ability to securely edit documents using MS Word within the product.
Service: Due to this company using a name for their product (PolicyManager) that is already trademarked and registered by an industry leader (PolicyMedical), customers usually contact the official provider of PolicyManager® (which is PolicyMedical) who does not service MCN Healthcare clients. For MCN clients that repeatedly call the wrong company, this is causing growing frustration.
Cost: The basic feature set of the solution is usually matched with a lower price point. The sales team is also more aggressive in negotiating deeper discounts.
We hope this comparison has been helpful. PolicyMedical has been left out of this review of hospital policy management software vendors on purpose in order to give you a review that’s as objective as possible. PolicyMedical’s price points are slightly higher than the average, fitting well with ambitious healthcare organizations that are focused on following best practices within healthcare policy management. We compliment hospitals that are looking to make a cultural shift in terms of their employees understanding and following policies to deliver happier and safer patient care. We typically are not a fit for organizations looking to make a quick purchase and hoping to have a hands-off approach with us – we like to dig deep and get involved with our clients. To learn a little more about us feel free to visit www.policymedical.com.