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Do vendor/customer partnerships really exist?

September 19, 2008
by anonymous
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I recently completed research on the use of newer technologies (e.g. robots, sensors, tracking systems, workflow management, event messaging, BMDI and others) for care delivery. As part of the research I wanted to talk to hospitals that had implemented the technology to understand how it was used, why they selected it and lessons learned. Since these are newer technologies I also wanted to learn about the challenges of integration and adoption. While interviewing the hospital clinicians and IT staff I learned all of the above and something more – that vendor and customer partnerships really do exist for technologies just hitting their stride in hospitals.

The partnerships are strong for a number of reasons. First of all sales people for these technologies in many cases were involved in product development and know everything about how it works, what it can and can’t do – and more importantly how it can be enhanced to meet the needs of the hospital. They are eager to please and often volunteer to participate on steering committees, weekly meetings and presentations. Some offer their staff as part of the core team. Hospitals implementing these technologies have done their homework and understand the product, its use and the challenges for adoption. They believe in the product, have accepted the risk associated with new systems, and insist on close involvement by the vendor. Both sides have much to gain if it works and much to lose if it doesn’t.

While this may sound corny – one nurse summed up her hospital’s vendor partnership by saying” the company has a purpose – not just a product. They want to help us make a difference.” Corny, well maybe --- but it sounds good to me.




I too have seen many good and effective partnerships. The people on both sides of the table really listen and deliver on their commitments.

Yes, I've seen sales execs stay with clients much longer than 'required', just to make sure the follow through is as promised. It's really neat to see and it happens a lot.

Whenever there's strong-arming on either side, or distancing from commitments (it can be on either side as well), the partnership and work product clearly suffers. Good partnerships are always grounded on communication that's tied to achievable expectations.... and, as you described, a commitment to a vision to make a difference.

I can imagine that 90 percent of CIOs out there are just buying off the shelf. Isn't getting into a true partnership intimidating to many CIOs. We are considering doing a major story on how partnerships can be done effectively. I would like to produce a "manual" in this story that will give cautious CIOs confidence that they can also take up the partner model.