Using Technology to Buy Technology
Technology has always played a critical part in the delivery of health care, and has now permeated almost every aspect of general business activity for the healthcare sector. This means that organisations have to keep up with tech developments around their own core competencies, while also being aware of innovations that support the delivery of their core services.
The range of devices to diagnose, monitor or treat diseases or medical conditions continues to grow, and health professionals are increasingly required to make purchase decisions about complex technologies with which they may not be familiar.
In turn, this complexity flows through to the procurement process itself. It’s not easy to satisfy the requirements of all stakeholders, while also being able to demonstrate probity and transparency. While some larger institutions may have a dedicated procurement function, in other organisations, there can often be gaps between those who understand purchasing and those familiar with the technological requirements.
Ironically, it may be a different form of technology that holds the key.
Over the last few years, procurement itself has been a beneficiary of the growth of the Internet, analytics and the smart use of data. Specialised procurement tools and systems enable organisations to cast a wide net, looking beyond their known circle of suppliers and testing the broader market for appropriate goods and services; in some cases, finding solutions they didn’t even know existed.
But specialised procurement technology does much more than enable broader supplier reach. It also supports the procurement process itself, allowing buyers to better qualify their suppliers, evaluate their pricing, their product strength and their post-sale support ability.
Most importantly, where significant sums of money are involved, e-tendering technology ensures transparency and probity, not only during the tendering process, but also during the bid evaluation stage. Good evaluation toolsets force purchasers to be explicit about their requirements and their relative weightings before the tender documents go out the door. They then provide a structured and transparent format that ensures tender responses are objectively scored on a like-for-like basis.
Sure, technology alone can’t treat patients or run hospitals. But it can be used to generate better procurement outcomes, while also demonstrating that the process and decisions involved were both objective and equitable. This contribution cannot be underestimated, particularly at a time of heightened public scrutiny.
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