There’s a lot of confusion surrounding the I.T. industry. Given how much technology has evolved during the past 20 years, it’s only natural that the world is extremely mystified in its understanding of what I.T. providers do and how they do it. How do you manage those mysterious “geeks” who promise to organize your company’s information and business processes? How do you even talk to them, without knowing the lingo?
Worry not—I.T. companies do occasionally have real human beings behind the wheel who will be able to understand your business and discuss your affairs in plain English. Actually, it’s the perfect litmus test: if the guy across the table can’t pass on their point in terms you can understand without a computer science degree, it’s a clear indication you don’t want to work with them, since communication is key to I.T. partnerships that—by definition—often revolve around some of the most sensitive and important aspects of your business.
However, even if you have an outstanding meeting with a candidate for your I.T. services, don’t start popping the champagne just yet. There are several important, history-backed, black-on-white considerations to make before you finalize your choice.
These considerations do apply to most industries. However, for healthcare companies, they carry an even bigger weight. The reason is simple: healthcare providers work with some of the most sensitive data in the world. A single information leak or procedural misstep can spell a quick end for a healthcare clinic’s reputation, not to mention the patient’s—the examples of this are not scarce. Health records, photos, contact information—it’s all in there.
To connect the dots, then, is not a difficult task. I.T. providers don’t just get access to a lot of the sensitive information within your practice—they’re responsible for its security. It’s your responsibility, however, to make sure you choose the right I.T. company.
And yet, as we’ve mentioned before, it’s not always a trivial task. Without being an I.T. specialist yourself, you might be easily talked into unprofitable decisions. Or, the inverse can be true: you might become so skeptical of whatever your I.T. provider suggests that you reject even net-positive decisions. This article will shed some light on the art and science of speaking to your (potential) I.T. provider without needing a translator.
Number One: Experience in the Field
We understand that there are limitations in how deep conversations with I.T. providers can get. At some point, the guy across the table might start telling you about how they’re going to be “dogfooding” your software “iterations” next Tuesday, which isn’t very productive for either of you. You might conclude, then, that you simply can’t learn all the why’s and how’s of what your I.T. provider does.
But that’s not how you approach the issue. Since you will never be able to talk technical details (unless, again, you do have the knowledge to do that), you want to establish trust with the I.T. provider once and for all, and then simply let them do their job.
The single greatest indicator that an I.T. provider knows what they’re doing is experience within your field. Ask them about other healthcare practices they’ve worked with. Be direct, curious, and persistent: ask them about how the collaboration went (or is going), what issues they’ve faced, and how they solved them. What you want to do is to gauge their level of understanding and experience with practices like yours. Be extremely thorough here—a mistake can be costly.
I.T. providers who specialize in particular fields don’t just offer better, smoother service delivery. They also know the common pitfalls and red flags specific to your industry, which allows them to put a stop to any potential dangers before they can cause damage.
Number Two: All-Inclusiveness
Specialization is good in many cases. When an I.T. provider specializes in a particular industry, it can only benefit your business. However, what you want to avoid is an I.T. company that is limited only to a particular set of services.
It is true that you might not need the full spectrum of I.T. solutions at this very moment—few firms do. However, you want to make sure that your I.T. provider does have the ability to provide the full menu. There are several reasons for that.
For one, even if you only need a particular piece of infrastructure right now (say, cloud-based information storage), with how radically internal business operations are changing each year, there’s a good chance you will be needing other services in the not-so-distant future, too. Which means that you’ll have to rely not on one, but several I.T. providers to keep your operations running and customers happy.
Now, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see how that is bound to go wrong. First of all, it puts an additional burden of coordination on your shoulders: what one of your I.T. providers does or suggests might be incompatible with what the other one has already implemented. This can lead to all sorts of organizational havoc and security errors.
More importantly, however, is that by working with several I.T. providers simultaneously, you’re effectively taking on the duties of managing all I.T. ops within your company. If you have a strong in-house I.T. management department that can cope with the task, it is possible. However, the whole point of getting outsourced I.T. services is to bring in external technical management expertise, so combining two or more I.T. providers at the same time is inefficient, to say the least.
Number Three: Customer-Centric Attitude
We talk about this a lot, but customer satisfaction is so important going into the 2020s that we’re obliged to reiterate on this one more time. In case you’ve missed some of our previous articles, here’s a quick reminder: more than $1.6 trillion (that’s trillion with a t) are lost annually in the U.S. alone due to customers switching to competitors after a bad experience.
Since technology is at the forefront of customer satisfaction, you want to make sure your I.T. provider understands the issues your patients are facing in-depth. Remember: you’re not just outsourcing the legwork—you’re outsourcing a part of your decision making, too.
If you’re running a healthcare practice and are looking to establish a competitive advantage through I.T., don’t hesitate to get in touch; we’ll help you strategize how to use I.T. to take on your competitors. Give us a call at 844-44-JMARK, send an email to [email protected], or just get in touch through the Contact Us page of this website. We want to hear your story and understand your challenges, truly.