Choose the right software for aged care: 18 questions to ask a software provider

| 07 Aug 2013
Questions to ask your software provider

With so many software providers promising you the world, and so many solutions to choose from, how do you decide which provider is going to be the right fit for you and your organisation?

To help you better evaluate  the merits of the software solution you are considering, here are 18 suggestions regarding what questions to ask.

1. How long has the company been in the business?

In recent years, new software providers have been popping up across the aged care industry at an alarming rate. When sorting through the sales and marketing hype, it’s important to choose a provider with a long track record and solid reputation. Be sure to ask when the company was established, how long they have been in the business, and most importantly, how long they’ve specifically been specialising in aged care software. You want to ensure the company is going to be with you long after the sale.

2. Does the company specialise in software for aged care?

Software providers offering off-the-shelf solutions do not understand aged care and are not empathetic to the challenges the sector faces, such as  an ageing workforce, staff shortages and limited technology expertise, when it comes to implementing technology. It is important to find out how well a prospective software provider understands these challenges and how they plan to overcome them during the process of implementing the solution.

3. Is the business model sustainable?

When doing due diligence on potential software providers, be sure ask the tough questions around the financial viability of the business’ model. There are currently about 180,000 residential aged care beds in Australia. Within the last decade, more than half of Australia’s aged care providers have already implemented a clinical and care management software solution. As more providers shift from paper-based records to an electronic system, it is reasonable to assume that most will have chosen and implemented a clinical software solution at some point over the next five years.

The lack of new business sales from around 2017 onwards will pose serious threats for some software providers. By our calculations, software providers with a sustainable business model will be those with at least 50,000 beds under licence. Seek out clarity as to whether the software provider has a long-term strategy, how many beds do they have under licence, and how sustainable their business model actually is.

4. How does the company approach product development and innovation?

Technology is advancing at rocketing speeds so there is a risk that the software you implement could become outdated faster than you had initially prepared for. You don’t want to discover that in five years’ time that you’re left with expensive software and hardware that you’ll have to replace – all because your provider adopts a regressive approach to investing in technology.

To get a clear idea of the software provider’s approach to product development and innovation, ask them to take you through their product roadmaps. What plans do they have in place for product development and future upgrades? Do they have a team focused on product development? What is their policy regarding piloting and investing in new programs? Are they pioneering any new technologies? How will the software evolve as your own needs change?

5. What is the client retention rate?

A provider that delivers high service levels and value will always retain a solid base of satisfied clients. Be sure to ask what the software provider’s rate of client retention rate is. If it is anything less than 100 percent, try to find out why those previous clients did not renew their software licences.

6. Can you supply success stories and references?

Unfortunately, too many software providers over-promise and under-deliver, which is why you need to know that the proposed solution works as well in practice, as it does in theory. A reputable software provider will be happy to show you success stories of existing clients that demonstrate real results. Better yet, ask to speak with existing clients about their own experiences with the provider.

7. Who else do you partner with?

It’s also important to seek out a software provider with the strongest capabilities and credibility. A provider with a strong network of credible partners, industry connections, reputable clients , as well as credentials and achievements will improve your chances for achieving long-term success. Ask what leading technology providers they partner with? What awards have they achieved? Are they well-connected and highly regarded in the industry?

8. Does the provider’s values align with your own?

Of all the things to look for in a software provider, this is probably one of the commonly overlooked. Partnering with a provider that shares similar values as your own organisation goes a long way in ensuring the relationship is in for the long haul. The better a provider understands your organisation, the better they can help to ensure your ongoing success. If integrity, accountability and respect are values that your organisation identifies closely with, try to choose a software provider with the similar ethics.

9. What level of ongoing support can we expect to receive?

Be sure that the software provider will offer you an adequate level of ongoing, personalised support as part of the service agreement. Operating in aged care, you will need access to a support team 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Prospective software providers should also offer multiple support channels by telephone, online and via email.

You will find the next nine questions in the second part of the post. 

(Image credit: Master Isolated Images)

Tags: aged care, aged care software, software provider, technology

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The iCareHealth Team


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