Update: ITAC Health Procurement workshop

As you know ITAC Health’s primary role is to advocate for appropriate levels of ICT spending in healthcare and promote the role its members can play in establishing the Canadian healthcare industry as a global leader.

Consequently, on March 21st, 2013, ITAC Health hosted a very successful interactive full day workshop for its members in Toronto. This workshop focused on health procurement and the many issues that the industry faces in this highly important aspect of our business. The goal of the workshop was to more clearly define vendor concerns about public sector procurement and to formulate an ITAC Health action plan on this issue.

Planned by Elaine Huesing and facilitated by Brendan Seaton, the workshop featured Susanne Flett (Healthtech Consultants) and Gary Folker (Orion Health) as co-hosts and included contributions from:

  • Jim McCarter, the Auditor General for Ontario (View his remarks to the workshop here)
  • Marian McDonald, ADM, Ontario Shared Services
  • Michael Barron, CEO for the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information
  • Jeff Barnett, Director of Clinical Informatics for the BC Cancer Agency.

We also enjoyed the participation of number of our members (Go to #ITACHealth on Twitter to see the day’s conversation). It also became clear, throughout the day, that the workshop participants were impressed by the presentations, the exchange of information, the dynamic participation of attendees and the thoughtful output and possible actions that could be taken to further the industry’s efforts to deal with procurement issues. Topics that were discussed included:

  • RFPs that:
    • Are overly prescriptive
    • Have unrealistic deadlines and very slow evaluation responses
    • Do not include the end-users in the process
    • Have mandatory requirements that turn out not to be mandatory
  • Terms and Conditions – Unlimited liability, take it or leave it, and Intellectual Property ownership
  • Requests for COTS applications that insist on modifications
  • The inhibition of real innovation and innovative thinking
  • The focus on technology versus outcomes
  • Communication during RFP process
  • The e-Submission of bids
  • Timing of release of RFPs – e.g. just before major holidays
  • Fixed priced bids

Furthermore, during the workshop, several of the participants, including the Auditor General, suggested that “perhaps the pendulum has swung too far” and that it was time to examine all aspects of the bidding process.

This workshop was the culmination of an initiative that began over two years ago, when ITAC Health formed a committee to actively pursue “thought leadership” and engage in other possible actions that would enable industry concerns to be heard.

The committee developed a number of actions including the creation of a “value algorithm” (see attached PDF) that could actively compare procurements utilizing a number of “values.” The committee was originally formed as a sub-committee of the Membership and Program Development committee and recently we made this a joint effort with our Advocacy Committee.

Our work continues as a result, and the workshop is a testimony to its success. We were especially pleased that Mr. McCarter’s concerns at the workshop resonated with our own. Procurement will thus continue to be a priority for ITAC Health on behalf of our members.

As a result, ITAC Health is currently preparing a position paper on procurement and has follow-up meetings already scheduled with organizations such as eHealth Ontario.

We plan to meet with the provincial and territorial health CIO’s over the coming months as continued investment in the Canadian healthcare delivery systems is vital to ongoing development and improvements.

As a member, you are invited to become further engaged so please contact Elaine Huesing (ehuesing@itac.ca) on the potential activities that are being planned.

“There has already been positive progress seen based on our procurement efforts. I had a discussion with a decision maker at a large Canadian healthcare facility that was frustrated with the procurement situation. I referenced the work by ITAC Health and the video available of Jim McCarter.  The person was very pleased to receive the link to the video and has since used it to start some positive related changes in their organization.” – Frank D. Scarpino, Chief Strategy Officer, Global Healthcare Practice, OnX Enterprise Solutions