Build vs. Buy Healthcare Technology? Why It’s Better to Outsource & Questions to Ask Your Vendor.
Insurers, employers, and third-party administrators are embracing digital solutions to better serve patients and injured workers. The right healthcare technology can boost patient satisfaction, lower costs of care, improve communication across healthcare teams, and even get injured workers back to work faster.
If you're in agreement that healthcare technology can help meet key organization goals, the question remains: build or buy? In other words, is it better to build your own digital solution internally? Or is it better to outsource and bring in a third-party vendor?
It may come as no surprise that we lean to the latter: it's better to buy. However, depending on the nature of your goals as an insurer, employer, third-party administrator or healthcare provider, it could be worth the debate! For this purpose, we're going to break-down the key benefits for bringing in an existing solution versus going custom.
4 Reasons Buying Healthcare Technology is Better Than Building In-House
The technology your organization uses may be dated, clunky, and perhaps is limited to a stale, legacy system. However, your department, team, or organization has the opportunity to leverage fresh, innovative digital solutions to implement positive change. Building a solution internally can offer the greatest level of customization, keeps funds in-house, and theoretically can deliver exactly what you're looking for. However, there are quite a few strings attached. Building healthcare technology is complex, costly, and time-consuming.
Here are 4 reasons why biting the bullet and choosing a healthcare technology vendor that promises to help with your bottom line, patient satisfaction, return-to-work times, or other goals is good for business.
1. Timing: Rollout Can Be Immediate
Like a home renovation, building technology from scratch almost always takes longer than predicted. Even a conservative deadline for building a healthcare solution tends to be overshot...and then overshot again. The problem with building innovation is that there's no silver bullet or one-size-fits all playbook. Things will pop up, delays will happen, project roadmaps will change, and the usable product may get pushed further and further back.
If you see the need for an innovative solution today, building in-house will take months, sometimes years, to materialize. By bringing on a third-party vendor of your choice, the rollout time and onboarding will be a fraction of the build-time. A reputable vendor will work closely with your team to have your chosen solution up and running ontime, so that you can begin to see the benefits immediately. Bringing in a proven solution today allows you to reap immediate rewards and takes out any of the guesswork.
Questions to ask a vendor solution about rollout time:
How soon could we be set-up with your solution?
Do you anticipate any delays or roadblocks integrating with our system?
What's the slowest contract signed to implementation you've experienced? What happened?
2. Control Costs
When it comes to building your new solution in-house, building out a team and spending internally can seem attractive. However IT projects are known for taking longer (see above) and costing far more than estimated. Even though the investment in your own custom technology to build, maintain, and add patients or workers to, may seem to balance out, there's a much greater risk of running over budget and inaccurately predicting investment and ongoing costs.
Diverting resources to innovative vendors means agreeing to your level of financial investment- there shouldn't be any surprises.
An outsourced vendor with a solution that serves your organization's goals will have a transparent pricing model. Implementation costs, technical support, and cost per patient or set rates will be agreed to before contracts are signed. This way, there are no hidden financial surprises and you'll understand cost and the anticipated reward.
Questions to ask a vendor solution about cost:
Are there any technical set-up costs?
Are there any hidden fees?
Could I ever be billed more than we've discussed?
What type of billing makes the most sense for us?
What do your other clients typically go with?
3. Leverage a Proven Solution
If you've found a healthcare tech solution, it probably didn't just fall into your lap. In all likelihood, the winning third-party solution came recommended by a broker, medical director, users, is currently being used by a competitor, or came to you via industry word of mouth, etc. By the time a vendor solution enters your sphere, chances are it's been around for a while, building credibility and clients behind-the-scenes.
This is a major leg up from building your own solution. Although you may understand how you'd like your solution to function and the goals it will help to achieve, a professional, proven vendor solution will have undergone all of the troubleshooting, countless iterations, and has been tried and tested by real users and clients.
When bringing in an existing vendor's technology, you'll benefit from actually seeing how well it performs, can ask for real results from similar organizations, can speak to fellow customers or patient users, will read their whitepapers and studies, etc.
Questions to gage how proven a vendor solution is:
Can I see any white-papers, studies, or medical journals about your solution?
Can I speak to one of your patients or users?
Do I know anyone who is using your solution?
Have you ever seen your technology solution NOT work? A question like this can be both humbling and revealing.
4. More Intuitive and Easy-to-Integrate
When bringing in an outside solution, you won't need to hire a technical team to manage the system, build out a data center, provision hardware, etc. Your chosen solution is likely designed for wider-adoption, easy integration, and ease of use. Third-party vendor solutions aren't often designed by healthcare institutions. Rather, they're designed by teams of people with diverse backgrounds who aim to deliver clean, intuitive products. This means that these solutions should be easy to follow, require less staff training time, and sit atop your existing systems and platforms.
The burdens brought from lengthy deployments, clogged resources, time restraints, and staffing and training issues, can be eliminated from the equation.
When adopting a vendor solution that may be used by a select department, teams can have a hand in selecting the technology they'll be using. This allows for some teamwide investment, familiarity, and let's face it, they'll only give the 'green light' on a tech solution that makes sense and is functional.
Questions to ask a vendor about ease of integration:
What resources will be needed to run the solution on our end?
What type of access will I have (or need) from your side?
How much training is required for our team?
Typically, how long is the learning curve with the digital solution (if there is one)?
For your most successful integrations, how have you seen teams interact with the technology (e.g. are new teams made to offer/ support the solution)?
As insurers, employers, or third-party administrators, you have an opportunity to leverage the blood, sweat, and tears of innovators who have dedicated their time to building viable, proven solutions. These solutions are immediate, have transparent pricing, are designed for ease of use and integration, and should come with a proven track record of success. Embracing are plug-and-play solution that is customizable to your organization and goals and already lives and breathes is well, pretty darn compelling.