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Strong value analysis programs work smarter, not harder, especially in healthcare today where there has never been more work to do. That means investing your team’s efforts where it matters most—which contrary to popular belief, is not on the new product request form.

At Lumere, we have collaborated with over 100 hospitals, from top academic medical centers to community hospitals. We have seen organizations struggle over and over again with their new product request form.  Why? They are operating with the core belief that effective value analysis programs are built around new product request forms. In reality, new product request forms are just the first opportunity to engage physicians and capture information that drives the product evaluation process. It’s not the only opportunity, nor the most important.

However, we are also on the front lines with our clients—creating, test, and retesting new product request forms. We have seen firsthand that a poorly-designed form can quickly become a detriment, rather than a valuable tool.  Based on our experience, here are the top six mistakes that value analysis leaders make with their new product request forms.

Mistake #1—Overthinking it: While it is always wise to take a thoughtful approach, overthinking the form and putting too much emphasis on its role in your process can hold your organization back. The new product request form is not the only instrument to gather information to support decision making. It shouldn’t be seen as the sole way to get all product information or to fully understand the consequences of approving the product. When hospitals rely too much on the request form they lose out on the opportunity to engage physicians at the outset of the product evaluation process because clinicians will just hand it over to vendors.  We also recommend focusing your team’s energy on more important work—like improving your governance model and conducting more thorough clinical and financial analysis.

Mistake #2—Forgetting Who Matters Most: New product request forms should always have a focus on patients.  Since healthcare today is focused on improving outcomes, your form should explore the clinical justification for the new product. Will the new technology increase longevity, reduce length of stay (LOS), or decrease infection rates? Other considerations include how often the product will be used for patient procedures and for which patient populations. Those details could have significant bearing on your decisions.

Mistake #3—Asking too much: Filling out a new product request form is just one of many tasks on a busy physician’s calendar. To improve engagement and minimize frustration with the process, the form must be concise. Effective value analysis programs only include the necessary questions. Not sure what to ask? Put yourself in the end-users’ shoes. Make sure that they can complete the form on their own, without vendor support. Don’t waste their time by asking questions you can easily complete on their behalf. Some examples of what to remove include questions on FDA approval, catalog numbers of current products, and if the product can be leased or rented.

Mistake #4—It’s too hard to find: The new product request form should be readily accessible and not buried in an email that was sent months ago. Nobody, especially clinicians, wants to dig through their inbox or old training materials to find a form that they are already not thrilled about completing.  Leveraging an existing central location like your organization’s intranet to post a link to the form is ideal. Otherwise, there is just another excuse to delay the process or to simply not complete it.

Mistake #5—Doing the work for them: Yes, it’s tempting to offer to complete the request form on behalf of physicians, simply to ensure it gets done. However, we view the request form as a mechanism to enforce a policy that requires clinicians to initiate requests, not merely an information gathering tool. As long as your form is asking the right questions, and only the questions that matter, completing the form gives physicians better insight into the product evaluation process and the key factors that influence decision making.

Mistake #6—Lacking transparency: We have helped many providers to make the leap from a paper or homegrown request form to a comprehensive solution that improves efficiency, collaboration, and transparency. Technology can also support your value analysis process beyond the new product request form by providing analytics that demonstrate ROI. But technology should also provide visibility on the process. Being transparent about decision-making criteria, approval stages, and possible delays keeps physicians engaged and increases the integrity of the process.