Five healthcare IT decisions to avoid

By Chip Means
11:02 AM

Providers eager to capitalize on incentives offered through the federal government's definition of 'meaningful use' of healthcare IT may find themselves evaluating their relationships with existing and new IT vendors.

Modifying an agreement with a vendor during the contract phases can be a crucial step to aligning IT projects with federal incentive funds, said Jeffery Daigrepont, senior VP at Coker Group. "Many vendors offer a money back guarantee if their product does not comply with stimulus," Daigrepont said. "Every contract should have a warranty that requires a vendor to correct defects at their expenses and under NO circumstances should you ever sign a contract without being entitled to future upgrades and new releases."

Daigrepont, who has no financial ties with any vendors, provided Healthcare IT News with his list of five healthcare IT decisions to avoid:

1. Buying defective software - It may not be your fault, but it's your problem. Defects in software range from minor glitches to major liabilities. Most defects can be corrected, or workarounds developed. However, in cases where the defect creates a threat to security or patient safety, or a liability to the organization, the defect MUST be addressed immediately and/or use must be discontinued -- just as Toyota has had to do with their cars' sticking gas pedals.

2. Buying non-compliant software - Your entire organization is expecting the software to meet national standards or federal mandates, but the vendor fails to develop their product in accordance to these guidelines. In the case of stimulus incentives, being disqualified becomes a possibility. Moreover, penalties for not adopting could be enforced.
3. Not seeing the writing on the wall - Your system is installed, working and meeting the needs of the organization, but your vendor has commercially discontinued the product and is no longer creating enhancements. In short, you're on a sinking ship. Not acting or refusing to accept the obvious is only delaying the unavoidable reality of having to rip out and replace your system.

4. One-offs - A "one-off" occurs when you cave to pressure from a department or individual who needs a specific IT solution to fill gaps around the existing program. In some cases, you have no other option, but there can be some trap doors when doing this. It's always best to first see if there is a workflow workaround or if there can be a behavior change by those who feel they must have their own solution.

5. Going live with an incomplete system - The pressure to go live on a new system is often driven by a vendor who is trying to recognize revenue by burning through the hours in the budget so they can get to the next install. The system (in some cases) was not properly tested before going live. As a result, the users or physicians get first bitten by a bad experience or worse, backsliding starts to occur. This can be avoided by adopting a simple plan called "DBVT" (Design, Build, Validate, Test). For example, design your order form, build your order form, validate the build with end users, test the form with end users. This exercise will help you avoid proceeding with an incomplete system design.

For a sample contract language on how to protect your organization from some of these fatal IT decisions, please contact Jeffery Daigrepont at: or 770-597-0590.