By Karen Matthias, MBA, RN, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Hayes, Inc.
Making decisions about which medical technologies to acquire isn’t easy. When considering new technologies, especially those associated with cardiology, bariatrics, orthopedics, and the operating room, navigating the myriad of information needed to drive a decision can be difficult. Choosing technologies that will optimize patient outcomes, control costs, and satisfy all of the internal stakeholders is a complex process. Attempting to satisfy competing requirements of a host of internal stakeholders can be tricky.
The impact of a decision may not come to light for months and often is exposed on the hospital’s profit and loss line. A decision may be deemed wrong by one or more stakeholders because of erroneous projections of uptake of a new technology, disappointing reimbursement from payers, or overestimation of improvement to patient outcomes over currently available technologies. Whatever the reason, poor decisions of the past drive the choices of the future.
Here are some of the pitfalls to avoid when making technology-acquisition decisions. Does your hospital fall into any of these traps that may prevent you from meeting your goals to enhance the quality of care, control costs, and improve operational efficiency?
- Relying on free, public Internet searches as a reliable source for information.
- Confusing opinion or consensus with scientific evidence.
- Ignoring financial and other conflicts of interest that may be driving a request for a new technology.
- Allowing strong physician preference for a specific technology to influence decision making.
- Failing to understand what criteria insurers will use to determine coverage policies.
- Accepting the manufacturer’s information on technical specifications without demanding the best available clinical evidence that illustrates what impact (positive or negative) the technology will have on patient outcomes.
- Ignoring what the evidence is saying about which specific patient population will benefit from the technology.
- Failing to identify the worst-case scenario if your assumptions and expectations about patient outcomes and reimbursement are wrong.
- Failing to proactively define and track the metrics needed to determine whether the technology acquisition was a good decision.
- Using ad hoc decision-making procedures rather than systematic, transparent procedures.
- Believing that newer means better.