7 Questions to Ask Potential LIS Software Vendors
As laboratories shift from on-premises to cloud-based LIS, there are a lot of questions that need to be asked before picking which LIS software vendor is the right vendor for YOUR laboratory.
It seems like every day a new LIS software vendor pops up. Making it harder and harder for laboratories like yourself to vet which one is best for your objectives.
To simplify the evaluation process, we’ve outlined seven questions around service, support, and training that you should ask all LIS software vendors.
Questions for LIS Software Vendors
Question 1: How do you support your clients?
When you move from an on-premises to a cloud-based LIS, you need a partner who will be there for you after the ink dries on your agreement. A partner who is there and responsive when you need them the most – when issues arise. And they will, it’s just the nature of the beast. But how your LIS vendor handles those problems with a comprehensive support system makes all the difference.
We’d advise you to explore and dig deep into how the vendor supports their clients. Remember this will be your first point of contact for your team and understanding their processes will set expectations moving forward.
Note: Make sure to understand what 24×7 means. Does it mean you can submit tickets at any time but you won’t get a response till business hours? Or do they have a team who can solve your issue/s at any time of the day?
When discussing support, ask:
- When is your support available?
- Is it 24×7?
- What does 24×7 mean to each LIS vendor?
- How do you communicate with your clients?
- What type of support packages do you offer?
- What do you actually support? Is there anything outside the scope of your support team?
- What are your expected turnaround times?
- What is your average resolution time?
- Are there any additional fees for different types of support?
- How can we interact with you? Email, customer portal, phone, chat, social media?
- Do you have a library of resources I can troubleshoot myself?
Source: Pathology Department, Cambridge University
Question 2: How is training provided?
Even with the most intuitive Laboratory Information System application, your team will need training. Some laboratories don’t put enough emphasis on how important training is. Training can make or break the lab’s adoption rate with the new LIS.
Your team will need to not only know how to use the LIS but how best to configure and make it work best for your practice. Keep in mind, a good LIS software vendor will provide best practices around workflows, integrations, etc.
Before selecting your LIS software vendor make sure to dive into their training programs and resources.
Key questions to ask:
- How is your training performed? Onsite? Virtual? Self-services? Hybrid?
- How long does it take to train the entire team?
- Is there separate training for different users?
- Is training offered as needed for new hires?
- Can you provide your training agenda and timeline?
Question 3: How often do you perform system updates?
SaaS-based LIS software vendors will regularly push upgrades/updates to your environment. These updates will be small allowing users to digest them easily without becoming overwhelmed or interfering with everyday operations. This is the beauty of SaaS-Based LIS, laboratories can easily enjoy the updates without having to do the work themselves.
Comparatively to an on-premises LIS, updates happen only a few times a year, contain major updates, and are performed by the laboratory’s internal IT department. Each update typically has a lot of new features making it harder for your lab to learn and keep operations going.
When vetting laboratory information system (LIS) software vendors make sure you ask:
- What kind of development process does your organization Have? Agile? Waterfall? Scrum?…
- Can you show me your roadmap?
- How do you roll out updates/bug fixes?
Question 4: What will be my total cost of ownership?
LIS software vendors are transforming every day, and so are their pricing structures.
As we know laboratories typically do not switch out their LIS every year(unless something is horribly wrong), it’s more like 5-10 years and some LIS software vendors are taking advantage of this.
When LIS software vendors offer extremely low setup fees and volume-based pricing, it enables labs to think they can pass less for more.
When in fact, labs that plan to grow and expand their offerings end up paying a lot more year over year. As their testing volume increases so does how much their LIS software costs.
We see this a lot, laboratories come NovoPath as they want to get out of the accounting circus caused by volume-based pricing and have a partnership with their LIS vendor that will enable them to grow without being taxed for their growth.
For smaller labs, this pricing model is ideal, however, if you’re looking to scale – volume-based pricing wreaks havoc on your financials, and let’s not forget, it doesn’t provide accurate budgeting and forecasting…
Question 5: Does your LIS provide interoperability?
To run a lab effectively, integrations are a must. Integrations to EHRs, billing, clinician offices, stainers, microscopes, the list can go on and on. But the important question is; does the LIS software vendor perform and monitor these integrations or will you need to bring in another vendor?
Other key questions to ask:
- How many connections can it handle?
- Can you explain or go into the security measures of the data exchange?
- What protocols are supported?
- How will I know if something goes wrong?
- Does it provide bi-directional data flows?
Question 6: Do you have focus groups?
Your laboratory team works within the LIS day in and day out. They naturally will innovate ways to make the system easier to use the function to improve overall performance. We suggest that you find out if your LIS software vendor is open to product improvement suggestions with events like focus groups.
Holding focus groups regularly means it’s part of your LIS provider’s culture to listen to clients and is a great indication of how your partnership will look in the future.
Question 7: Can you share references or testimonials from other clients?
LIS software vendors with good client relationships should be willing to connect you to references or point you toward testimonials.
For the best perspective, ask to speak to laboratories similar in size and specialties offered.
Preparing for Change
Now that you’re armed with the key questions to ask your laboratory infomration system (LIS) software vendor, another aspect of consideration is data migration. Are you or is your team asking how will you migrate your data?