There’s no shortage of technologies—or IT vendors touting them—to address health IT’s problems. But there is a shortage of true IT partnerships. In a partner, selling and order-taking aren’t enough. Neither is showcasing features and functionality. You must expect your partners to join you in advancing your mission by investing—side-by-side with you—in their people, skills, technologies, and assets. They must move beyond simply reacting to rising costs and actually help you improve patient outcomes. And they must commit to your ultimate goal of fostering a healthy society.
I see five critical issues for this all-important partnership:
This is the foundation. When you’re evaluating potential partners, ask for quantifiable examples of how they meet health IT security and privacy standards. Listen for proof that they’re responsible stewards of public information. At Microsoft, we adhere to stringent security standards all over the world, such as HIPAA in the U.S. Read our Top 10 Questions to ask about security, privacy, SLAs, reliability, and more.
2. Shared mission
You’re looking for an IT partner, not a software order-taker. To land the right partner, make sure that potential vendors are as committed to improving health outcomes in your country as you are. The company should have a greater purpose ingrained in its DNA, as evidenced by:
· Solutions that improve healthcare
· Research that advances the medical field
· Natural disaster response protocols
· Education programs
3. Focus on reducing the cost of care
A true partner will work with you to solve root problems such as bringing down the cost of healthcare, as Microsoft is doing. Ask candidates for specific examples of their activities in preventive medicine. Another telltale area to investigate is telehealth. Industry leaders will be working to advance this important method of conducting remote patient consults.
4. Unified mobile strategy
Your country’s hospitals and medical offices may be filled with mobile devices that are expensive to upgrade and difficult to manage and secure. This can’t continue. A strong IT partner will have solid answers to your questions about device form factors, security, privacy, and interoperability. Those answers should include low-cost, no-compromise mobile solutions that work on one platform.
You have a lot of choices in vendors, and with technology evolving fast and vendors coming and going, those choices are changing constantly. You should ask yourself, who’s going to be there with you over the long term? Consistent, ongoing partnership is imperative to bettering patient outcomes.
Take all this information and weigh it against the real cost of working with a particular company, and watch out for any premium you might have to pay for innovation. A partner who’s committed to true partnership will be transparent about its efforts to bring together the innovative technologies and rich cadre of partners needed to deliver on your mission to promote a healthy citizenry.
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