With over a decade of experience in the healthcare industry as a provider of policy management software, we have had the chance to really delve into the market and evaluate not only offerings, but also of our competitors. Our experience has led us to interact with several clients, both potential and actual, which has helped us to realize what is required of a vendor. As there is a wealth of very reliable, well organized, easy to use and safe healthcare policy management software solutions, it leads to a healthy competition within the market, causing the vendors to make sure their software is amongst the best. Thereby, it also means that clients have a good selection to choose from meaning that their needs are best met. The only downside is that selecting the right vendor can sometimes be a bit overwhelming, which is problematic because it is a big commitment. It is, therefore, imperative to ask the right questions. To one end, we are always striving to develop products based on our clients’ needs, however, we realize that we may not always be able to cater everyone’s needs and that another vendor may be the right fit. Therefore, this article is addressed generically, in order to assist you in your search for the right vendor.
Most hospitals, as well as, software vendors are very familiar with Requests For Proposals (or RFPs). Based on our experience, here at PolicyMedical, and especially over the past few years, we have been involved in countless RFPs. The goal of this article is to help hospitals and healthcare organizations prepare RFP documents when evaluating policy management software vendors by providing samples of the top standard questions that are usually asked during the process.
Typically, a Request for Proposal is used when hospitals know that a problem exists, but they aren’t exactly sure how to solve the problem. This can be a frustrating situation. The RFP acts as a formal method that has specific rules and guidelines for content and vendor responses. A successful RFP process will provide a fair and transparent selection process and it should satisfy the hospital’s business needs and requirements.
There are many aspects to creating a Request For Proposal, but ideally, the first thing that a hospital should do is establish the overall scope of the project. For example, questions like:
- What are they looking for in a policy management software?
- How many users will be accessing the system to view policies and procedures?
- How many people or groups will be editing documents?
- How many documents will you be managing?
- Who will be evaluating the software?
At PolicyMedical, we have found that it is beneficial to speak with the key stakeholders that will be managing quality and compliance at the hospital. These discussions allow our team to get more detailed information on the existing process and tailor the RFP responses to best suit the hospital’s needs.
The next step would be to define a timeline for the RFP. These key dates will help ensure that the project stays on track and that decisions are made in a timely manner. After establishing a clear timeframe for responses from vendors, hospitals will need to put together the type of information that they feel is important in the selection process. These questions are usually grouped to help determine key pieces of information about the policy management software vendor, as well as, the features and functionality of the software itself. Listed below are the top standard RFP questions and needs from hospitals that we have seen over our many years of experience, here at PolicyMedical.
- Company Name (and/or Parent Company), Address and Website
- Company Phone and Fax Numbers
- Name and Email address of the person responsible for responding to the RFP
- Number of years as a policy management vendor.
- Is the product specific to the Healthcare Space?
- Current size of existing user base.
- Can policy or procedure templates be used? (i.e. – Customizable templates)
- Can we create policies in Microsoft Word format?
- Allow workflow design for collaboration, approval, and publishing.
- User permission levels or restrictions (Access rights)
- Establish an audit trail for each policy with automated archiving and version control.
- Automation of policy management tasks.
- Ownership of the policy should be maintained.
- Ability to add digital signatures.
- Employee compliance in reading Policies and Procedures will be measured and reported.
- How does your solution handle out-of-date and redundant policies?
- How does your company handle conforming to government and industry regulations, for example, The Joint Commission standards, DNV or AAAHC regulations? (Mapping policies to Regulations and Requirements)
- Provide Browse and Search capabilities for employees; enable staff to quickly locate any policy.
- Search functionality; by title, by content, regulatory reference or by similar content?
- List of policies/procedure by department (ability to configure and organize documents).
- Solution should be Web-based.
- Application will interface with Email System.
- Must provide a user-friendly interface that allows employees to read all policies and procedures available to them or to search for a specific document using “key words”, etc.
- Describe any limitations regarding the number of User Licenses or number of documents?
- What does your support include?
- Describe your levels of customer support; include priority levels and what expectations should be, regarding resolution.
Implementation and Training:
- Describe the implementation process.
- What types of training do you provide to new clients? Describe on-going access to training materials – online, etc.
- Describe the customer support services available for clients.
- Stand Alone System or other vendor product required?
- Does the solution integrate with Microsoft Active Directory for the purpose of authentication?
- Capability to configure role based assess to restrict access by organization, department, group, or location?
- Does your product include report generation software or is a 3rd party tool required?
- Does your product have a library of standard reports? Please provide samples of your reports.
- Can reports be exported to Microsoft Excel format?
- What is the Initial Cost & Annual Software licensing cost?
- What is the Annual Maintenance Expense?
- What is the Remote Installation/Troubleshooting Expense?
- What are the Implementation & Training Expenses?
The internet is scattered with many different types of RFP templates for organizations to download, however, when hospitals are evaluating policy management software vendors, these templates may not provide the right type of questions that are specific for the healthcare environment. Each hospital and healthcare organization is unique in so many ways, so there really is no “one size fits all” RFP type of document. That said, well-prepared RFPs can be very beneficial in creating effective solutions to help improve the hospital’s policy and procedure management process, as well as, establishing long-term partnerships with the right vendor.
When preparing an RFP for policy management software, it is important for hospitals to understand that responding to an Request For Proposal can be very time consuming and also quite costly for a vendor. Vendors must be able to justify the cost of participating in the RFP process in relation to the potential contract value. Also, vendors need to be assured that they have an equal opportunity to be selected as the vendor of choice. The more information that a hospital can provide in the RFP document about their own organization and the project needs, the greater the likelihood of receiving more accurate information from the policy management software vendor.
At PolicyMedical, we are consistently developing robust, and powerful, contracts and policy management software. We work long and hard to ensure we are answering all the questions our potential clients may have, and strive to implement feedback received from both current, and potential, clientele. However, we realize that we may not always be able to live up to every organization’s expectations, and that another vendor may be a better provider. Regardless, we are more than happy to assist in making your decision, even if it means another vendor is the better option. Please, do not hesitate to contact us, should you require any assistance. Alternatively, you may book a demo to witness our offerings in live action.