Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nurse Call Selection Process

 I thought I would share some tips to anyone looking to upgrade their nurse call system or drive any change within their current platform (upgrade is a variable term which encompasses hardware and software)  Sphere3 has walked a number of hospitals through this process and are glad to be of service to any hospital looking to update.

Hospital Tips:

1)      Define the REASON for change first – it’s generally three things – new construction, remodel, or existing system is "old". Your hospital will have some SOPs attached to each one. If you are looking for definition around "old" we have tools you can use to define and structure your business case for update.
2)      Define the INITIATIVES you want to improve which will be enabled by the change. Strip away everything that does not align with those initiatives, and compare the systems.

3)       Define the WORKFLOW associated with improvement of these initiatives.  Don't think about the technologies - define what would be the best process to improve your initiatives.  I know this can be very chicken and the egg for some folks.   There are groups like Sphere3, Burwood and others that can provide you with a vendor agnostic view of what current technology CAN do which allows you to define HOW you want the system to work.    
4)      Pick Three Systems and review for alignment with your core workflow, and meet with representatives.  Provide them all with the same workflow and initiative information and allow them to present how their system will meet your needs.  Their presentation MUST show you how their product will perform the workflows you have described.

They will all have “Whiz Bang” features and will highlight them as something that you should use to make your decision.  The truth is  if “Whiz Bang features”(which can only be supplied by “one” vendor) become decision points then it really detracts from your ability to make a workflow decision.  Please note – talk paths, voice over IP, single sign on for multiple applications, SQL databases, etc these are not Whiz Bang – these are essential functionality statements.  Understanding each systems IT structure and potential limitations is really important.  We should never make a decision in a bubble – multiple parties use the system and multiple parties maintain the system.   Make a clear delineation between Whiz Bang and Functionality.  
5)      Reduce to 2 systems and set up site visits of ACTUAL working client sites – their factory tours are all cool and the experience is meant to be incredible. Whether you go to the “farm” or an “experience center” you will be wowed…..that’s the point. Though I will agree with the vendors – having the opportunity to see all of the flexibilities of the systems can be valuable.   Go visit at least one real client site….proof is in the live pudding. 
6)      Review the database for ease of reporting AND structure.  If they claim have ability to interface with other products such as middleware, RTLS, phones,  Aperum® etc ask for them to provide a site where the data has been validated. Then ask for a sample DE-identified file for review. I need to emphasize here – there are holes in the way certain systems record data – it’s important to understand what those are and how it will impact your ability to use their data to make decisions in the future.
7)      Get your prices and take time to understand what is in them (or hire someone to review them for you who will understand the gotchas.) I have found on several projects now that pricing can be challenging to review (even for me and I started working with nurse call in 1986….if you do the math that’s a funny statement.) I have seen simple parts lists with a price to a 300+ page document.  If they send you a 300+ page document – read it – wow is it revealing about what they will and will not guarantee. (Check the contract if they will not “guarantee the operation of their IT system” runaway)

When you strip away everything that is “fluff” in these proposals and get down to the brass tacks of will this do what you want, will the vendor be available to service you when you need (not when they can make time to get to your area), and is the hardware AND software high quality and reliable  --- then you know you are making a good decision based on your specific needs not on their competitive advantages.

I could write pages on this process – if you are making a change this is a major capital and operational investment that affects a hospitals HCAHPS scores (which leads to reimbursement etc) it's important to really do your homework.  The industry changes are really interesting right now so don’t get caught with a system that won’t be here in a year or a company that can’t support your needs. 
If you have questions feel free to email me or call us.