5 Insider Tips for CDM Software Decisions

Looking for a new Charge Master tool? As compliance and revenue cycle teams become more sophisticated, they integrate CDM management products into their auditing, monitoring, collaboration, and problem solving. We interviewed seven CDM Coordinators for their recommendations on the software product selection process. This blog post includes common challenges as well as the best five ‘Insider Tips’ for a more proactive approach.


Why is everything so challenging?

Selecting a new CDM tool takes commitment, and usually requires consensus from multiple team members. Several of the speed bumps our advisors encounter include:

    • Budgets are tight, and every expense is scrutinized.
    • Old tools and methods are no longer effective or efficient; but individuals are cautious about change.
    • Teams don’t have an analytical strategy for evaluating new products, and don’t know where to begin the process.
    • Team members want to be involved but have no spare time.
    • Assertions of functionality by some vendors confuse or sway the team before an objective evaluation is possible.

We know Charge Master software selection or vendor changes can seem daunting. Here are some insider tips from our panel:

Tip #1 – Make an informed decision

We were told that proactive CDM Teams utilize a well-coordinated, team-based selection process. Their hospitals commit the effort necessary to ensure a good ‘fit’ whether they are shopping for new products or evaluating product renewals. Three of the most widely-used preparatory activities include:

    • 1) internal assessments for needs and readiness,
    • 2) preliminary market research, and
    • 3) software functionality evaluations.

Assess Readiness

Ensure your team’s readiness before starting the process. Ask these questions:

    • Are the right departments and personnel involved in the selection process?
    • Do we have clear selection criteria and an organized method to rate vendor functionality?
    • Is there adequate time to evaluate all aspects of the products?
    • How do we ensure objectivity in our decisions?
    • Are we locked into a contract with our current vendor?

Simplify Initial Market Research

Of primary importance, your team will need to identify the vendors that align their CDM product philosophy with your hospital’s needs. When it comes to narrowing down vendor choices, our Coordinator advisors say: “Do your homework”. They also warn that you must “control the market research process” to avoid overwhelming your selection team. Be prepared to articulate your timelines, budget, operational challenges, and product needs well in advance of calling vendors for demos. Here are some additional suggestions hospitals shared:

    • Use vendor resources: Visit vendor websites and request product collaterals, articles, and white papers. Also consider requesting fact-finding consultative calls with the vendor’s product experts to understand how your hospital’s challenges can be solved with their product functions. Look not only at product information, but also assess their experience, professionalism, and longevity.
    • Tap into your network: Ask other hospitals about their selection process and experiences with vendors.
    • Understand endorsements: Be sure your team understands endorsement programs, approvals, or ratings of professional associations or trade groups. Ask your vendor why they have chosen to either participate, or not participate, in specific programs or affiliations.
    • Develop a decision matrix: Review software costs & functions for all potential users, not just one or two individuals. Determine where redundancy can be reduced and other costs saved with the products you’re evaluating.

Evaluate Product Functionality Carefully

Our panel members all agreed that hospitals should never be forced to rely on CDM auditing products that are difficult to use, inefficient, or hard to deploy. They also shared that the small CDM tool market includes products and companies that are quite diverse. Your team will want to review all aspects of vendor applications and functionality through:

    1. 1. In-depth demonstrations.
    2. 2. Follow up demos with preferred vendors and
    1. 3. Discussions with multiple customers of prospective vendors.

Tip #2 – Evaluate functionality first, then price

The panel shared that price points and vendor offerings in the CDM Management industry have continued to be diverse. Our Coordinator advisors say that product cost does not necessarily correlate to quality, and price should not be the sole selection criteria. Four critical evaluation criteria shared by all interviewed included: Ease of use, product functionality, customer support, and reliability of data accuracy.

Tip #3 – Don’t commit to excessive terms

Our insiders told us they hear that some hospitals are presented with extended contract terms for CDM Management tools. Software has a typical lifecycle of 12 to 24 months before functionality changes. What you like today may not be the best fit down the line. The panel suggests that hospitals avoid being locked into prolonged contractual commitments.

Tip #4 – Understand licensing obligations

Here are some suggestions from our panel to be sure your hospital will be abiding by product licensing requirements:

    • Understand how product ‘users’ are licensed and confirm your hospital’s obligations with licensing terms.
    • Here are some suggestions from our panel to be sure your hospital will be abiding by product licensing requirements
    • Confirm how the vendor tracks users for accurate licensing, and maintains security to control and manage product access.

Tip #5 – Negotiate with the end in mind

Our panel cautions their peers about overly-restrictive licensing terms and suggests careful evaluation of the language. Two highly-controversial clauses that lock hospitals into tricky cancellation and renewal commitments include:

Automatic Renewal

Be aware of terms that automatically renew your CDM product contract. More importantly, watch for clauses that require notice of cancellation months in advance of the renewal date. Watch for thorny phrases like: “the agreement will automatically renew if (vendor) is not notified (XX) days prior to the anniversary of the renewal date”.

Cancellation Penalties

Our advisors shared that significant financial penalties may be used to dissuade hospitals from cancellation of a CDM tool license. Several on the panel shared “Don’t be caught by surprise with licensing agreement terms.”

Summary

Our CDM industry advisors work hard to ensure the ‘best fit’ when it comes to selecting CDM products and resources for their organizations. Next time your team is researching CDM Tools, apply these five ‘insider tips’ for confident and effective selection decisions.

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