Insider Tips for Chargemaster Software Selection

Is your hospital looking for a new Charge Master tool? Many years ago, we interviewed seven CDM Coordinators for their recommendations on the Chargemaster software product selection process. We now have updated input from additional customers.

Why is Charge Master software selection challenging?

CDM software selection timeframes only come around every few years for an organization. Primary challenges include securing funding, educating the team for a proactive selection process, and efficiently involving the appropriate participants in the selection process.

Our customers shared common challenges they encountered when shopping for replacement or new CDM tools in today’s market.

So why is Charge Master software selection challenging? – The answers appear to be varied and diverse. We hope these customer tips that follow are helpful.

Questions Your Team Can Expect

Based on input from leading consultants and hospital customers, here are some challenging questions that selection teams face:

Are Funds Budgeted?  Chargemaster software budgets may be distributed between multiple cost centers, requiring collaboration, cost-benefit considerations, and advanced financial planning.

Advisor Solutions:

  • Understand vendor software costs early in the CDM Tool selection process and budget accordingly.
  • Know whether product suites are “all-in-one” or component priced.
  • Look at which departments could share in budgeting the licensing cost by 1) Reviewing house-wide reference material licensing to identify savings 2) Considering the auditing functions that extend beyond Revenue Cycle 3) Evaluating how new CDM tools benefit other functions and service areas such as Information Technology, Compliance, Clinical, and Ancillary departments, or 4) Tapping into vendor Charge Master experts to help match your challenges with their product solutions.

 Who’s Willing to Change?  Currently-used tools and methods may no longer be effective or efficient, but individuals might be cautious about change.

Advisor Solutions:

  • A large number of your staff may be using current CDM tools, and even more potential users might be identified. Be diplomatic in your CDM Software selection, but always query primary users for their input.
  • During the software selection process, begin a self-assessment for your own organization. Evaluate whether charge management processes are healthy.
  • Drive change by showing potential improvements. Consider how new tools and functions can help facilitate improvements.
  • Confirm the level of loyalty the team has to current tools. Ask your staff in-depth questions about certain workflow processes and tool use.
  • Educate your team on Charge Management priority tasks and determine whether new or different staff should become engaged.
  • Assess the actual usage patterns of current software/product licensees.

What are Renewal & Notice Dates for Currently-Used Products?  Software renewal and notice deadlines often catch hospital teams by surprise.

Advisor Solutions: Without good coordination, a missed deadline can impede plans to convert to a more desirable product. Be certain about contract terms and plan accordingly.

Does the Team Know How to Evaluate Tools? – Teams may not have a strong analytical strategy for evaluating new products. Often, they may not know where to begin the process.

Advisor Solutions:

  • Vendor product specialists should be able to help hospital teams in differentiating product functions and understanding the benefits of the software’s solutions.
  • Don’t be shy during product demos – ask the vendor probing questions.
  • Ensure that key team members participate in product evaluations. Be certain they fully understand the functionality or workflow benefits of competing products.

Who Has Time to Participate in the Search?  Team members often want to be involved but have no spare time.

Advisor Solutions:

  • Plan for a dedicated approach for Chargemaster software selection.
  • Consider primary users but also think about potential new users to find champions in various operational areas.
  • Think about who really needs to be involved in different demo sessions and conversations with potential vendors.
  • Assign specific selection evaluation criteria to team members to save time. Have only pertinent staff review specific vendor modules or functions.

Is the Team Confused by Vendor Presentations?  Presentations on functionality may leave the selection team confused.

Advisor Solutions:

  • Ensure that team members understand functionality, product benefits, and capabilities of competing Charge Master software vendors.
  • Work as a team to outline primary workflow processes. Then discuss how Charge Management can be streamlined with the desired software tool.
  • Query the team for their impressions after each demo.
  • Ask for repeat demos until all questions are answered.



————————–More from the Archives ——————————-

Insider Tips – Earlier Suggestions Still Ring True

Even with the Advisors’ Solutions we’ve listed in our new article, we know Charge Master software selection or vendor changes can seem daunting.

Here are our decades-old insider tips from our first popular article on this topic:

Tip #1 – Make an informed decision

We were told that proactive Revenue Cycle and Compliance Teams utilize a well-coordinated, team-based CDM Tool selection process when selecting a new Chargemaster tool.

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 selection 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?

Simplify Initial Market Research

Of primary importance, your team will need to identify the vendors that align CDM product philosophy with your hospital’s needs. Several of our advisors suggested that hospitals identify timelines, budget, operational challenges, and product needs well in advance of calling vendors for demos.

Here are some additional advisor suggestions:

  • Use vendor resources: Visit vendor websites and review product collaterals, articles, and white papers. Request fact-finding consultative calls with vendor product experts to understand how challenges can be solved with product functions. Finally, always assess the company’s experience and professionalism.
  • 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 of resources can be reduced.
  • Evaluate Product Functionality Carefully: Review how auditing, monitoring, maintenance, research, and communication will be supported by the software. When selecting a new Chargemaster tool, your team will want to review all aspects of vendor applications and functionality through in-depth demonstrations and discussions with multiple customers of prospective vendors.


Tip #2 – Evaluate functionality first, then consider price

The panel members shared that price points and vendor offerings in the CDM Management industry are diverse. Our advisors say that product cost does not necessarily correlate to quality. Four critical evaluation criteria shared by all interviewed included: ease of use, product functionality, customer service/support, and reliability of data accuracy.

Take advantage of the HFMA Peer Review selection criteria to filter through companies that meet quality standards.

HFMA Peer Review Website Link

Tip #3 – Don’t commit to excessive licensing periods

Our insiders warned about very lengthy contract terms for CDM Management tools.

Tip #4 – Understand licensing obligations

Here are some suggestions from our panel on product licensing:

  • Understand how product users are defined.
  • Confirm how the vendor logs and tracks users.

Tip #5 – Negotiate Terms with the end in mind

Our panel cautions their peers about overly-restrictive licensing terms and suggests careful evaluation of the language. Two challenging clauses they shared include:

  • Automatic Renewal – It is common for vendor contracts to include terms that automatically renew CDM software licensing. This ensures no lapses in access if renewal timeframes slip by unnoticed. However, watch for clauses that require significantly long advance notice of cancellation. Be sure all team members calendar 1) the deadline for providing notice for renewal, 2) the new licensing period start date, and 3) invoice due dates.
  • Cancellation Penalties – Our advisors shared that significant financial penalties may be used by some vendors to dissuade hospitals from cancellation of a CDM software license.


Our industry advisors tell us their teams work hard to ensure the best fit in selecting CDM products. Next time your team is selecting a new CDM tool, apply these five insider tips for confident and effective selection decisions.

Other references the reader may find helpful when revisiting Charge Master software solutions:

10 Steps for Failsafe Charge Data Management – Holliday & Associates
Holliday & Associates Charge Management Software Solutions
ChargeAssist Charge Master Public Portal Press Release
ChargeAssist News Center Blog

Holliday & Associates offers ChargeAssist®; an HFMA Peer Reviewed™ Charge Master auditing and resource tool for easily auditing, collaborating, and maintaining Charge Master files. We also provide Charge Management Team and Charge Master Coordinator Educational Programs as well as customized CDM Reviews by a team of credentialed clinical, coding and technical auditors.

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