Key benefits of EHR RFPs

A healthcare organization involved in the EHR system selection process will be tasked with collecting a vast amount of information from EHR vendors regarding their products. The data collected, not only offers selection teams with valuable insight into potential software solutions but also regarding the vendors offering these products. When appropriately used, RFPs can be a valuable tool that can assist in the information gathering and decision-making process. Specifically, RFPs offer selection teams the following advantages.

Obtain quality proposals rather than boilerplate or unrealistic responses

An RFP that relies on a robust methodology for collecting responses and relies on an organized and consistent method for comparing product information can provide selection teams with a powerful tool that not only saves time in the selection process, but also elicits quality information. As the adage used by statisticians goes, “garbage in, garbage out.” Restated, if one uses poor quality information on which to base their analysis, the resulting decision will reflect the poor-quality data being collected. As such, an RFP can be constructed in a way that requires vendors to provide specific proposals that can be tailored to address an organization’s specific technology needs. What this approach avoids is the tendency for vendors to provide shotgun responses or not focus on an organization’s specific technology needs, instead promoting features that may be deemed important by the vendors but not by the healthcare organization.  For example, an RFP can require a vendor to “go into detail about your requirements, and in doing so, create differentials between your vendors of choice” thereby focusing the process.   

A structured way to compare products

Selection teams that can gather quality information offered by vendors through RFPs are better equipped to make a well-reasoned decision that is aligned with their organization’s goals. RFPs that rely on an organized way to elicit and analyze information from vendors can collect quality information from vendors, while not making the mistake of losing sight of the forest for the trees given the vast amount of information involved. Often practices will use a predetermined criteria scorecard to evaluate RFP responses based on how each product rates on the objective scoring system. In effect, an RFP based on this method can eliminate the need to engage in a subjective and often faulty product evaluation discussions.  

Time savings

RFPs can offer significant time savings during the selection process particularly for larger practices which may select products more frequently. An organized RFP process not only allows selection teams to evaluate candidates in an objective manner that can eliminate time-consuming deliberation, but also can provide a way to create a database of vendors and products that can be relied on for future use.   For example, a hospital may keep a hospital RFP database so that if a vendor is needed for a particular service or product, a potential client within the organization can refer to the RFP database and find suitable vendors to serve their needs.

Given the importance of making the right decision when selecting an EHR system, sending out RFPs can streamline the decision-making process and make the information gathering and evaluation process more useful by allowing selection teams to collect and analyze EHR product data provided by vendors in a structured manner and also reduce the time needed to engage in the selection process.  

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Jeff Green

About the author…

Jeff Green, MPH, JD works as a freelance writer and consultant in the Healthcare information Technology Space.

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Jeff Green

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