How to get the best responses to your EHR RFP document
In order to get the most accurate responses to your EHR RFP from prospective vendors, you must give them clear direction on the content and format of their response. The entire RFP document should be organized in an easy to follow format. You should be clear and concise in your needs. This way, there will be little question as to what you are looking for in your proposals.
The value in an EHR RFP begins to develop when you go into detail about your requirements, and in doing so, create differentials between your vendors of choice.
Part of this direction is covered through providing them with a thorough and clear understanding of your practice. Your introductory section should have outlined who you are as a practice, what you require from your EHR and why you are seeking a new EHR system. A rural pediatric clinic has different requirements than an immediate care setting in an urban area. Let the vendors know who they are delivering a proposal to.
Failing to outline your EHR requirements in detail can be a fatal mistake for any EHR RFP. It is likely that all vendors will meet your basic needs, especially if they are closely aligned with meaningful use requirements. If you stick to broad stroke requirements, you will likely receive the same proposal from all vendors. The value in an EHR RFP begins to develop when you go into detail about your requirements, and in doing so, create differentials between your vendors of choice.
For example, when asking for information regarding the EHR’s patient scheduling functionality:
"Is patient scheduling provided?"
"Does patient scheduling provide automated patient reminders, remote scheduling, and patient access within the core EHR system?"
Clearly the second question is likely to elicit a more valuable response from your EHR vendors. Instruct vendors to follow a well defined response for each requirements; often this takes the form of a multiple choice of “Functionality provided out of the box”, “Functionality provided at extra cost”, “Functionality provided through integration with additional systems”, “Functionality will be provided at time of implementation (in development)”, “Functionality not provided”. Specificity is essential in order to find a system that most accurately fits your needs.
The submission process
It is also important to provide the vendor with direction in regards to the submission process. If you would like them to provide a cover letter with their proposal, then include that in your instructions. Do not assume that vendors know exactly what you are looking for. You must provide contact information for questions on the process. Your contact should be a leader in your EHR selection committee and be willing to answer questions and provide clarity to many vendors. You should also provide a clear schedule from your selection process including submission due dates and your internal decision dates.
Providing vendors with ample direction in your EHR RFP will make the process of receiving and reviewing proposals much more efficient. It will reduce cost and reduce wastage during your EHR selection search.
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