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Healthcare technology acquisition can be a very drawn out process. Healthcare organisations are usually cautious when acquiring new technology, as there have been many cases where huge amounts have been spent in acquiring healthcare technology solutions, only to have them fail.

One of the most common reasons for this is rejection by the end users due to poor or indecisive management or a lack of understanding of the technology.

The fear of failure has lead to decision makers delaying in making a choice for acquiring technology as no one wants to be blamed for it’s failure.


The following tips can be used as a guide in helping managers reach a decision about acquiring healthcare technology solutions:

  • Understand the technology: Though expert knowledge is not necessary it is important to understand what the technology can do, its limitations and what impact it is expected to have on the organisation. A little research is all that is needed to achieve this. Do not rely on just the information provider by the vendor, because their primary aim is to sell you a product, whether it is a right fit or not.

  • Compatibility: Check the technology solution being acquired is compatible with already existing technology; else a standalone application that would most possibly end being ignored by the end users is the likely end result.

  • Shop around: It is not advisable to always get the healthcare solution from the first vendor that walks in through the door, and that is what most vendors would be counting on. An invitation to tender (ITT) is a way of getting round this, as various vendors submit their tenders of provide the solution. The tenders are usually detailed and contain information about the vendor’s background, financial requirements and technical details of the solution being provided, along with support service after procurement.

  • Choosing the right vendor: There are many vendors touting their products as the best in the market, however before rushing off and buying their products, some things to consider about the vendor are the period of time they have been in the business, whether they belong to healthcare IT associations like the American Medical Informatics Association or HL7, if the vendor has the right mix of personnel to provide the solution. Some believe that the bigger the vendor size, the better, however they are a number of small to medium sized vendors who have been in the business for a long time and provide a quality service.

  • Get other users opinions: Unless the technology solution or its vendor is new in the market, chances are that there is a user out there with an opinion. Vendors can be asked for a list of their clientele with contact details. These customers can be a good source of information on the usefulness of the technology, the quality of service from the vendor, problems encountered and how their organisation has been affected. The Internet is also another good place to look, as there are likely to be websites where people have enumerated their experiences with either the technology or the vendor. More often than not, and probably unfairly, the reviews tend to be negative but too many bad reviews is a good indication that something is wrong.

  • Does the technology meet industry standards: A product that has HL7 interfaces usually indicates a high level of interoperability with other health technology products. In the US, healthcare organisations have to ensure that their healthcare systems are HIPAA compliant, so it would be wise to acquire technology from vendors that ensure that their systems are just that. In the UK, meeting the ISO/TC 215 and/or CEN/TC 251 standards is usually a good indication of the quality of the product.



International Medical Informatics Association
American Medical Informatics Association
UK Health Informatics Society
Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society

Knowledge Center
Biomedical Informatics
Health Informatics
Healthcare Technologies
Hospital Information Systems

Healthcare Technologies Topics
The Data Protection Act 1998
The European Union Directive on Data Protection
Healthcare Technology Acquisition
Healthcare Technology Implementation
Enabling Healthcare Technologies
Emerging Healthcare Technologies

Last Updated: 10 August 2006.

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