Evaluating Cardiovascular RFP Responses

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By Joseph L. Marion, Principal, Healthcare Integration Strategies, LLC

In a previous discussion, we explored the composition of a Cardiovascular RFP. An RFP for cardiovascular information systems can be more complex than for other Picture Archive and Communications Systems (PACS) or information systems, in that cardiovascular services involve more than just imaging. Wave forms and procedure documentation are examples of additional relevant data that must be managed in addition to images. Physician reporting is also more complicated in that it is typically done with structured reporting templates instead of by dictation.

Once an RFP is completed and sent to prospective vendors, the question arises as to how the facility will evaluate vendor responses. One could stack the binders up next to each other and choose the thickest one, but that wouldn’t be very scientific or accurate! In addition, who should review the responses and be involved in the decision process?

There are many different perspectives to the review of the RFP. If done correctly, the RFP holds many of the answers to selecting a prospective vendor. As previously discussed, the RFP should include specific differentiators that will distinguish which vendors can meet the “must have” criteria for system selection. My personal preference is to perform a quantitative assessment of vendor responses that can be used to make a more informed qualitative decision.

Review Approach

Once again, the purpose of an RFP is to differentiate between vendors and determine if they meet key customer criteria for a system. The vendor’s RFP response should provide the facility with enough information to assist with these objectives. But what is the best way to assess their response? From a consultant’s perspective, I believe that the quantitative approach is most effective. It provides a mean to compare vendor responses across a wide range of requirements, as well as to drill down on specifics.

The first aspect of a quantitative assessment is to determine the weight each area of requirements should play in an overall assessment. For example, are general requirements such as warranty terms, implementation resources, and contract terms more or less important than pricing, functional, or technical requirements? Figure 1 illustrates a typical weighting for an actual Cardiovascular RFP. Note in this scheme there are two levels of weighting. The top level weights functional requirements more heavily than general or technical requirements, when taken as a whole. Within each section, individual subsections are then weighted based on their relative importance to that subsection. For example, in this instance, training, acceptance, and warranty coverage are considered more important than the other sub-sections with the general requirements. Each subsection is then multiplied by the top level category’s weight to determine the weighting for each subsection. For example, training and documentation makes up 2.25 percent of the total weighting for all requirements.

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