AMA vendor assessment

Vendor selection can be daunting. This section is dedicated to factors you should consider when evaluating specific HIT vendors and their products. For vendor-assessment checklists and worksheets, go to our tools section.

The basics

Initial financing:

Set-up costs and your set-up needs: Determine whether you need these services and products, and weigh your options for financing.

Plan for on-going needs: What will you need after everything is in place? What will be required in terms of post-implementation care? Consider:

Evaluate functionality and usability: Spend as much time as you can with vendors’ products. The “feel” of HIT software may eliminate it from consideration, or convince you. Consider:

Be sure to use the list of your practice’s work processes and needs (developed in your self-assessment) to evaluate the elements of particular vendors.

Server details: Confused about which server model is right for you? Here are some things to consider.

You may be best served by an ASP if you are:

Pros of using Application Service Providers (ASPs) include:

Keep in mind that you will engage contractually with an ASP, and that you will have little ability to tailor the system to your needs after the contract is in place.

It may make sense to invest in a server and manage your HIT in-house if you are:

Pros of using a client-server model include:

Keep in mind that if you choose the client-server model, technology questions related to the software will be handled by your vendor and its tech support; those related to the server or the hardware will be handled by you. You will have much larger set-up costs, but may see the benefit of smaller ongoing costs than the ASP-served practice.

Whichever set-up you choose, be prepared to ask many questions of your vendor or ASP. Ask what will required to maintain your system 6 months, a year, 3 years, 5 years down the line. Ask what will happen in case of system failure or how your changing needs will be addressed or accommodated.