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Building better partnerships: what you need to know

At the end of the day, electronic health records (EHRs) are increasingly becoming commodities. In that competitive landscape, vendors must separate themselves through partnership. Vendor partnerships will always face challenges because no one is flawless, but here are a few observations from my experience in building solid health IT relationships.

Unfortunately, the word ‘partnership’ is highly overused and subjective. The right way to define partnership is through the ease of interactions between the healthcare organization and vendor, and those interactions become much easier when both parties are truly transparent.

Transparency builds trust

Being transparent requires a certain amount of vulnerability as a vendor and an ability to balance the needs of your client with being a good steward for your company’s brand. Our clients want to work with a company that can have hard conversations, especially when challenges are presented.

Transparency is paramount to getting through challenge and, in fact, can lead to faster problem solving, better teamwork, healthier working relationships, trust and, ultimately, improved performance. I have a mantra for my team that really gives each of us permission to develop trust through transparency with our clients; “The news is the news. It’s what you do with it that matters.”

For example, when there is an organizational change that will affect our clients, you can handle that in several different ways. We get ahead of that by making personal calls to our client base, so they learn the news and how it impacts them from a trusted partner, instead of hearing it from someone else. Transparency with good news and bad news gives you the ability to set appropriate expectations and then to be a problem solver.

We are building such strong partnerships with clients that the industry has awarded us the highest rating in trust. Of course, communication is one of the most important aspects of partnerships. Establish a regular and thoughtful cadence to support continued transparency.

Empathy is vital

Empathy in partnerships involves putting ourselves in the other person’s shoes, while striking a balance with our own business needs. Healthcare organizations are trying to do more with less, and so are we. When we really understand challenges and strategic imperatives, as well as the resource constraints, we can develop some creative solutions that are fiscally responsible for both parties.

I would be remiss if I didn’t also mention accountability. True partners discuss strategic imperatives and alignment of solutions, then establish the metrics to track progress. We meet quarterly with an executive team and sponsors to monitor how we are executing versus the plan. If we’re off track, we determine a plan to get back on track. Partnership is about holding each other accountable for success.

Ultimately, it’s all about the patient, who should have access to the right data at the right time. If we’re doing our job as partners, we’re providing seamless solutions to support that work. As a consumer myself, I just want access to information and my whole care team to know what’s going on about me. If Allscripts is delivering on the solution, then the patient experience is improved.

Anybody can sign a contract, but that’s not a partnership. How do you operationalize and manage to outcomes? How can we work together to meet our mission? The partnership hinges on that. Discover detailed client successes stories derived from partnerships on our blog.

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