Evaluating Patient Communication Solutions – Identify Stakeholders & Their Top Concerns
When adopting a patient communication solution, it’s crucial to identify the relevant stakeholders and decision-makers who will be involved in the buying process, as well as the various groups who will be impacted by the technology. Additionally, it will be beneficial to understand and address the top concerns your leaders may have in regards to buying a patient communication platform early on in the process.
A patient communication platform impacts a variety of people
Patient engagement technology remains top-of-mind for healthcare leaders. According to 2021 survey data, over half of health system CIOs deemed it the number one top priority, overtaking artificial intelligence and machine learning. The need for a strong patient engagement strategy is not going away either.
As patient expectations rise in light of the digital transformation era, providing a seamless patient experience becomes even more essential to remaining competitive. What’s more, providers are recognizing just how effective a strong communication strategy is in enhancing the patient experience and improving overall health outcomes. And while patients are certainly at the forefront of these initiatives, the impact of a unified communications platform reaches a far greater group of people than just patients.
In fact, patient communication systems can provide improvements in many departments and staff across an entire health system. Think about some of the organizational benefits of unified patient communication platforms: reducing staff workload and burnout, improving operational efficiencies, increasing slot utilization and revenue, and much more.
With these improvements in mind, it should help you determine who at your organization will be most impacted by the software purchase – and in what ways.
Searching for a unified communications platform? Identify your stakeholders early on
Are you the one spearheading the search for a patient communication platform? If so, it is in your best interest to identify your key stakeholders early on and do your best to meet their needs. How do you meet their needs? Anticipate what questions or concerns they will have and understand their motivations.
This step of the buyer’s journey is about gathering the information and getting feedback from senior management on their expectations for this new technology. Your goal here is to be proactive in preventing objections or roadblocks that might appear further down the buying process because you didn’t address a key player or decision-maker’s concern.
It’s essential to start out by identifying those directly involved in the purchasing process or those in various groups and departments that may be affected by the communication system. This group will likely include various executives from your health system who need to approve new software, so understanding and addressing their questions and concerns can provide necessary important information as you evaluate products.
Demonstrating that you have done your due diligence on how a patient engagement platform will operationally and financially benefit and affect your health system will allow you to make a strong business case for when you ultimately decide to purchase one.
Who are the key stakeholders in the communication system buying process?
When purchasing a patient communication solution, who at your organization will be the key stakeholders or decision-makers throughout the process? To get you started, we have listed some typical health system positions and departments that are generally involved in this purchasing decision, as well as what they are responsible for.
CIO: CIOs lead the strategy for technology advancement, use, and development across a healthcare entity, making them critical decision-makers in a patient communication platform purchase. They will largely oversee the implementation and maintenance of the software.
Patient Experience: Those focused on patient experience manage and strategize improvements for patient support staff, driving and fostering a culture of patient and family-centered care. Related titles may include Chief of Patient Experience Officer, VP of Patient Access, Chief Patient Experience Officer, and Patient Experience Manager.
Digital Health Experience: Digital health experience leaders serve as knowledgeable innovation technology resources in identifying, evaluating, integrating, and implementing or advancing technologies to elevate IT service processing throughout the organization, which extends to the consumer experience. Potential titles related to this department include Chief Digital Transformation Officer, VP of Digital Experience, Director of Digital Strategy & Innovation, etc.
IT: IT leaders are responsible for the IT infrastructure and applications that enable an organization’s overarching business strategy and goals. These leaders, who likely report to the CIO directly, are crucial to the success of a launch of a technology or solution.
Remember, these are just a few stakeholders to get you started. Since every health system or health entity is different, there may very well be other key decision-makers at your company who will be a part of the purchasing process, such as your financial and legal teams. Are there any other leaders that come to mind? Jot them down.
Key stakeholder concerns to address in the communication systems buying process
Now that you’ve identified a few key stakeholders and departments that have a hand in the technology buying process, it’s important to outline any questions or concerns that might come up. Consider how a patient communication platform will affect each role or team and what concerns they may have about adopting a patient communication platform. What will they be focused on? What are their motivators and challenges?
Healthcare CIOs are no strangers to the build-vs-buy process, especially at a time when digital transformation is accelerating so quickly. One major priority for CIOs in this decision-making process lies in creating a frictionless experience for both patients and providers alike.
When deciding whether to build or buy, CIOs look to determine whether the solution can truly deliver something that’s both pleasurable and can do the work, while not causing unnecessary friction. Joel Vengco, Chief Information and Digital Officer at Hartford Healthcare, refers to this as the “basis for the tech cascade” – asking questions regarding a solution’s complexity, integration capabilities, and if it can be leveraged immediately.
When purchasing a platform, CIOs determine how a product fits into the overall IT strategy. They validate technical compatibility with existing systems and verify the technical value of the product per existing requirements and identified needs.
Here are a few questions CIOs will likely ask when buying a healthcare communication platform:
- What is the cost?
- What is the return on investment (ROI)?
- How will the team and patients respond to this new software? Will they both be willing to adopt?
- Are we abiding by legal/government regulations?
- Can this technology be leveraged immediately? What does the timeline look like?
While those in the patient experience department may not necessarily be the final decision-makers in the purchasing process, they are acutely aware of the needs of patient-facing staff and the importance of customer service in healthcare. They validate patient customer service concerns and the need for effective patient communication, as well as surface patient experience trends and identify a fit of solutions for those areas. Overall, they can be a champion to advocate for a digital solution if it aligns with their needs and is a proven tool.
Here are a few questions that may surface directly from the patient experience department:
- How easy is this technology to use for patients and staff?
- How will this directly impact patients? How will they respond to this?
- Is this communication system up to current patient standards?
Digital Health Experience:
Unifying digital tools is a primary goal for those in the digital health experience department. When purchasing a unified communications platform, these leaders will thoroughly compare digital tool options for the best fit into the future organization’s tech strategy, verify that existing tech and future tech implementations are aligned into a cohesive strategy, and validate the value of digital enhancement for the organization long-term.
Here are a few questions those in digital health experience may ask throughout the evaluation process:
- Will this easily integrate into our existing tech stack? How flexible and adaptable is this platform and its capabilities?
- What level of detail does the vendor offer regarding their implementation processes and ongoing support? How comfortable are they making implementation team members available to you during the sales process?
- What is the long-term ROI?
IT managers will likely be less concerned with cost or ROI in regards to implementing a patient communication solution. Instead, their main focus will primarily be on the technological details, including software set-up, integration, maintenance, data security, and personnel use.
Here are some questions that may surface for IT leaders in the search for a communication system:
- What level of EHR integration is supported?
- What does the integration process look like?
- How will this purchase impact the IT infrastructure?
- How does the vendor address security? What certifications do they hold?
Are there any other decision-makers at your company you believe will be affected by the software? Consider what type of questions they will have for you throughout this process and do your best to unpack them.
The success of a patient communication platform launch lies in the planning details
Now that you’ve identified your key stakeholders and their potential questions, make sure to refer to these throughout the entire process. Later on, when you evaluate vendors, it will be helpful to review the above questions and identify which vendors address your key stakeholders’ concerns and what questions still remain. This will help you identify the top unified communication platforms based on your leaders’ goals and objectives.
While the success of patient communication strategies hinges on numerous factors, partnering with the best patient communication software vendor based on your health system’s needs, prevailing laws, and industry standards is chief among them. Involving key stakeholders and decision-makers throughout the entire buying process will save you time in the long run and help you come to a sound decision. Since the leaders and departments will have an idea of what is going on early on, they may be more receptive to the initiative.
The journey for a patient communication platform continues
Remember this is just the second step in the buyer’s journey. Now that you have reviewed the initial criteria to consider when evaluating patient communication platforms and identified key stakeholders involved, as well as the top questions they may ask, you are well on your way to the next step of the buyer’s journey: researching vendors.
Download the WELL Health® Definitive Buyer’s Guide to a Patient Communication Platform – a comprehensive outline of the buying process divided into six easy steps. Reviewing this guide will increase the odds that you will make the right vendor selection for patient communication software. ♥