Population health management (PHM) is the future of delivering high-quality, lower-cost care for patients. The combination of gathering insights using advanced technology, the skills of physicians and their care teams, and engaged healthcare executives is the best way forward to promoting positive patient outcomes and curbing excess spending.
So, you’ve determined to go to market for a PHM vendor. What attributes should you look for when evaluating solutions? Given the relatively low “barrier of entry,” there are an overwhelming amount of companies that play in this space. As a result, you’ll want to perform the necessary diligence to help you narrow your focus. At a high level, your objective is to find a vendor that meets your specific needs and serves as a trusted partner that you can lean on in challenging situations.
Despite the significant growth in value-based care, we are still in the “early adopter” stage of a rapidly evolving industry. This presents unique challenges as we continue to pioneer best practices and refine solutions rather than addressing well-defined or static technical needs. The takeaway is that your evaluation will require a nuanced approach to selecting the right partner compared to other system selection processes you have facilitated in the past.
To help you account for these challenges, here are some considerations to keep in mind as you engage with the vendor community.
1. Do they take the necessary time to understand my problems and needs?
In clinical terms, prescription before diagnosis is malpractice. Similarly, beware of vendors who are quick to rattle off features and benefits in advance of understanding what they mean, specifically relative to your needs. Any organization worthy of your business should be keenly interested in learning about your current state in detail: the good, the bad, and the ugly.
- What are your goals and the strategies for reaching them?
- What attempts have been made to date?
- What resources do you have available?
- How are they currently being utilized?
This mapping process provides you with critical insights as a buyer: Is the vendor listening to understand my needs, or are they listening simply to reply with a recommended feature or function? Are they helping me better identify or define my current challenges? Does this sound like an organization that has the experience necessary to help me achieve my goals?
2. Do they stress collaboration to create a shared vision and sustained alignment?
Any vendor with actual results understands the importance of building relationships, working together toward objectives, and bringing alignment to all stakeholders for the duration of your partnership. Population health management isn’t a piece of turnkey software that we drop off and turn on. It is an ongoing commitment to change, which requires help and support beyond traditional client-vendor relationships.
By working together with your vendor partner(s), you are more likely to develop a successful population health management program that will benefit patients and providers alike, both now and as your needs evolve. It takes a diverse group of individuals, talents, and perspectives with complementary strengths to solve complex problems and achieve remarkable outcomes.
3. Do they provide honest feedback?
As you move forward through your value-based journey, you may benefit from hearing some hard truths relative to current approaches, former management, or previous care delivery processes. And that is okay! As I mentioned at the top, we are all evolving as consumers and solution providers.
Whether it pertains to technical capabilities, strategies, or even resources, a thoughtful vendor should respectfully tell you what you need to hear based on past experience, not just what they think you want to hear to earn your business. They should desire candid conversations with you to help identify and solve real problems that can create life-changing outcomes.
4. Can they accommodate the complexities and nuances that make my organization unique?
One of the qualities you should seek in a population health organization is technical configurability and a team with varying background knowledge and domain expertise.
Given the different requirements across value-based programs (quality measures, attribution methodologies, risk adjustment methods, benchmarks, cost category definitions, specialty codes, facility type codes, etc.), it is vitally important to have:
- Configurability within the platform to support the differences that set you apart
- Resources who can help tailor your configuration based on the specifics of each value-based contract
You do not want to waste time working around the fact that your solution doesn’t support a multi-contract architecture. Further, it will benefit you greatly to have vendor-side subject matter experts tune your environment to align with the various contracts and reimbursement models in which you’re participating.
5. Does every meeting feel too much like a sales pitch?
Selling is part of business, but an organization should provide you with different options for solving established goals. Vendors often sell before they understand your needs and goals, and authentic partnerships cannot exist if you fear every conversation will turn into a sales discussion.
The organization you choose should do its best to seek out your business problems first, then develop the solutions and plan to help get you where you want to be.
Eventually, if they feel you would genuinely benefit from an add-on purchase down the road, you will be able to discern if it is actually needed and trust their professional opinions enough to move forward or not.
Decide if Lightbeam is Right for You
If you are in the market for a population health management vendor with industry-leading technology, impactful solutions, and a talented and experienced team of industry thought leaders, I encourage you to learn more about our products and capabilities.
Patrick Burton is the Vice President of Business Development at Lightbeam.