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The Anti-RFP Approach

October 13, 2010
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Putting vendors through the clinical paces

I have been blogging lately about RFIs, RFPs, and in general what to consider when choosing an EHR for your organization. I recently spoke to Sentara Healthcare’s Senior Vice President and CIO Bert Reese on how his organization recently won the HIMSS Davies Award, and he told me his organization didn’t even do an RFP when making their vendor selection. What Sentara took was an extraordinarily innovative approach to choosing the absolute best EHR for their non-profit hospital system, which is located in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina.

The finalists came down to Cerner and Epic, and Reese decided to have his clinicians create a clinical scenario for the two vendors to demo. The scenario was quite complex: the fictional patient started off in the ED, then was admitted to med/surg, then to ICU, afterwards the OR; then the patient went home and had homecare, then went to their PCP, then went back to the ED. Reese invited clinicians to watch the live EHR demonstrations of the scripted clinical scenarios. Since Sentara is a nine-hospital system, naturally not all the physicians could see the demos live, so they were videotaped. Both scenarios were put side-by-side, so clinicians could easily compare the patient’s record in both environments. DVDs were pressed and shipped to all hospitals and practice groups for comments. By the time the final vendor was recommended to senior management, 3,000 people, of which 1,000 were physicians, had viewed the live demo or seen the DVD. As Reese describes it, Sentara “had to create an environment where [clinicians] could actually live in the future as we were starting to build it around them.”

To find out which vendor Sentara ended up picking and how Reese accomplished implementation, stay tuned to the December issue of Healthcare Informatics, where I profile Davies winners Sentara, Miramont Family Medicine, and Nemours.

I’m curious if anyone else out there has tried an anti-RFP approach to vendor selection. What was your specific method, and how did it work out? Please share your story in a comment below.


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