Attending and Getting Buy-In for EHR Vendor User Group Meetings

As a third-party advisory firm, at Stoltenberg Consulting, we are often asked by clients and industry connections, "Are user group meetings really worth it?" This question especially looms as health IT events reemerge, both in-person and virtually, yet hospital IT departments still struggle with COVID-19 era budget cuts.

Why should you attend a User Group Meeting?

  1. User group meetings are pertinent because attendees get an immersed first-hand experience of the vendor technology. Often times, this means live demos, opportunities to voice user feedback, vendor campus tours, chances to see and hear the latest news and updates from the vendor organization leaders, including vendor market share and business success, new version upgrades, customization opportunities, user case studies, and vendor advancements toward clearer interoperability. There are also often sessions centered around industry hot topics and provider pain points, like information security best practices, population health advancement, peer health system patient engagement initiatives and more.

  2. Additionally, there's the chance to hear from comparable user organizations. This is an opportunity to hear from other healthcare providers, covering how they chose and remain with the vendor, moved through implementation, or worked toward clinical optimization to meet value-based care demands, as well as how they’ve navigated health system growth and advancing patient engagement expectations. These aren't paid sales representatives. They are there to trade and share tips for success with other healthcare providers. As an attendee best practice, target organizations similar in size, budget and patient community to compare with. You can make valuable contacts to share information and ideas. These contacts can pay valuable dividends in the future.

  3. Finally, user group meetings put you in face-to-face interactions with the vendor. Doing so adds a deeper level to the client-vendor relationship. You'll then have a point person who will ideally feel more invested in your organization's success, whom you can follow up with to help with future vendor interactions.

What are tips to getting higher-up permission to attend?

It's all about return on investment. You have to show that this isn't a vacation or work break. You're going to work and absorb information that will directly tie back to system improvement for the organization. Price out the cost of attendance, including hotel, travel and admission, if applicable. Hold yourself accountable to that total as something you need to compensate for in value. If you're going for the sake of attending, that's not reason enough. Create a targeted list of three to four issues you wish to realistically address/resolve from the event with tactics to meet those items. Also, plan out what work you'll need to accomplish beforehand or plans to make up work from time missed from your normal duties. If needed, find areas of cost savings or added value that your role provides the organization that can compensate for your attendance.

For additional recommendations on health IT event networking, see our resource Four Health Tech Networking Mistakes to Avoid.

Stay tuned for additional healthcare leadership insights.

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Stoltenberg Consulting solely serves the healthcare industry. Trust our team's extensive EHR expertise to build your health system's competitive IT strategy forward for value-based care alignment. Contact our executive team today.