Great Expectations: How Covid Is Raising the Bar for Vendor Partnerships

By | August 27, 2020

Taylor Davis, VP, Business Development, KLAS

Now more than ever, partnerships between healthcare providers and vendors are crucial to the success of the industry and patient well-being. Months into the COVID-19 crisis, we have been able to reach out to our provider friends to see how well their vendor partners have supported them throughout the pandemic.

We are excited to share these findings in our recent report, Vendor Performance in Response to the COVID-19 Crisis.

There’s a lot to share, so this is the first part of a two-part series highlighting this report. In this blog, we will share the responses of healthcare IT vendors and the emphasized importance of vendor-provider relationships in the industry (see the chart below).

Unanimous Undertaking

Without exception, every vendor that was measured in the report made significant efforts to support their customers throughout these past several months. As with their provider counterparts, vendors realized that this pandemic was an all-hands-on-deck situation.

The differentiation we saw between vendor efforts to support their provider partners came down to a combination of a few key elements:

  1. Trusted Communication Lines. Vendors who already had strong, established communication lines with their customers beforehand performed best. They didn’t have to scramble to try to get in contact with their customers. They were able to reach out at a moment’s notice to provide support; the trust was already there.
  2. Proactive Support. Proactive vendors didn’t sit back and simply provide a webinar with a singular invitation to reach out if providers needed help. They kept coming back to providers to ask whether they had everything they needed, whether they needed anything more, and how they could help.
  3. Reacting to Provider Needs. High-scoring firms are experts at listening to, reacting quickly to, and adjusting to customer needs. With customer satisfaction, we usually measure how well an organization reacts to the meet the needs of their customers. In this case, meeting customer needs means helping provider organization meet patient needs.

Above and Beyond

As we gathered the research for this report as well as Delivering Customer Success at a Time of Crisis, Part II, we were touched by the number of impactful stories of how vendors rose up to the occasion.

When vendors needed to ramp up telehealth capacity quickly, they called the CEOs of major chip manufacturing companies in order to reroute semi-truck shipments of needed hardware and keep up with the hospitals’ needs.

We heard stories of vendors who, at great personal cost, set up entire field hospitals free of charge and flew in the healthcare professionals needed on-site to help out during the height of the pandemic.

There have been a number of vendors who have stepped up to share in the large financial blow that provider organizations have taken to their budgets. As outlined in our COVID-19 Technology & Services Solutions Guide, many technology vendors are offering a lot of resources for free.

Provider Expectations

As we gathered research, we were humbled by the willingness of providers to speak with us in the midst of the pandemic. These providers realize how important vendor relationships are. As they walked us through what makes a difference for them, they offered their vendor partners feedback on how they can continue to help meet their needs, and ultimately, the needs of the patients.

Vendors have shown that they are capable of meeting their customers’ needs on a new level. But if they can be exemplary partners during COVID-19, as has been shown, why can’t it happen all the time?

Undoubtedly, some vendors will slump back down to their pre-pandemic levels of communication, but we’re optimistic that some organizations will have found that they can do a better job of partnering than they have before. In either case, the expectations for partnership in the industry will never be the same. Providers will continue to expect more from their vendor partners, and vendor partners will continue to step up to those expectations.

We want to thank every vendor and commend them for their ubiquitous efforts to support their provider partners during this time of crisis.

For more details on specific vendor performance in response to COVID-19, see our full report. Stay tuned for part 2 of this series, which will focus on the crucial watershed moment the COVID-19 crisis has forced upon the healthcare industry.