MMI 408 - Medical Technology Acquisition and Assessment

Course Description:

This course provides a practical examination of acquiring and assessing new medical technology. Students examine this process from the perspective of both a vendor, who needs to know how to meet the expectations of customers and their acquisition requirements, and a customer/practitioner, who must know how to validate technology selections and implementations. Topics include cost analysis and justification, economic models, capital purchase, leasing strategies, the application service provider or risk-sharing model, purchase agreements and contracts, writing an RFP, analyzing an RFP response, and the industry business trends.
Professor(s): Patricia Becker, MBA Karin J. Lindgren, JD
Term: Fall 2011
Grade: A
Text: 1) Overly, M., & Kalyvas, J. R. (2004). Software agreements line by line: A detailed look at software contracts and licenses and how to change them to fit your needs. Boston, MA: Aspatore Books. [ISBN-13: 978-1587623691] 2) Ury, W. (1993). Getting past no: Negotiating in difficult situations. New York, NY: Bantam Books. [ISBN-13: 978-0553371314]

Learning Objectives:

  • Discuss the business imperatives and commitments needed for a major information technology acquisition.
  • Examine the organizational dynamics, due diligence requirements, and purchasing alternatives to consider before engaging in the acquisition of major information technology products or services.
  • Discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the various types of contracts and/or license agreements that can be used in a technology acquisition.
  • Analyze the legal and business issues that drive contracting decisions.
  • Create a request for proposal (RFP) that meets the organization’s business imperatives.
  • Evaluate vendors to acquire information technology products and services.
  • Negotiate fair and ethical contracts that beneficially serve the business needs and missions of all parties involved by including incentive-based terms for both the buyer and vendor.

What I Learned:

This class came at a very opportune time for me since I was participating in the vendor selection process for two vendor solutions at Blue Cross of Idaho. We first gained some background in negotiating tactics through reading "Getting Past No" by William Ury. I thoroughly enjoyed reading it and hold it as a book I recommend to anyone working as a business professional. The principles that are advocated by Ury hold true in all aspects of relationships that we maintain at home, work or our personal lives. Previous to taking this class, I had just finished training sponsored by my job in both Crucial Conversations and Confrontations.  I found the material complementary to what I learned there and it built upon the foundation that had been laid by those trainings.  Some of my favorite quotes from the book that summarize the principles taught include:
  • "Diplomacy is the art of letting someone else have your way." - Daniele Vare, Italian diplomat
  • "Your single greatest opportunity as a negotiator is to change the game. Instead of playing their way, let them have your way -- the way of joint problem-solving."
  • "Before every meeting, prepare. After every meeting, assess you progress, adapt your strategy, and prepare again. The secret of effective negotiation is that simple; prepare, prepare, prepare."
  • "The single most important skill in negotiation is the ability to put yourself in the other sides shoes. If you are trying to change their thinking, you need to begin by understanding what their thinking is."
  • "The purpose of negotiation is to explore whether you can satisfy your i interests better through an agreement than you could by pursuing your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA)."
  • "BATNA is the key to negotiating power. Your power depends less on whether you are bigger, stronger, more senior, or richer than the other person than on how good your BATNA is. If you have a viable alternative, then you have leverage in the negotiation. The better your BATNA, the more power you have."
This book provided a wealth of knowledge based on experience and studies of negotiation.  The key takeaways and strategies boil down to the following.
Don't React: Go to the Balcony.
"Speak when you are angry and you will make the best speech you will ever regret." - Ambrose Bierce
Don't Argue: Step to their Side.
"Rarely is it advisable to meet prejudice and passions head on. Instead, it is best to appear to conform to them in order to gain time to combat them. One must know how to sail with a contrary wind and to tack until one meets a wind in the right direction." - Fortune de Felice, 1778
Don't Reject: Reframe
"Craft against vice I will apply." - William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure
Don't Push: Build them a Golden Bridge.
"Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across". - Sun Tzu
Don't Escalate: Use Power to Educate
"The best general is the one who never fights." - Sun Tzu

After having gained some perspective for negotiation, we dove into the other assigned text "Software Agreements: Line by Line" and in parallel worked through our personal and group assignments. Our instructors divided the class into teams of five students and gave assigned an associated topic. I was paired up with John Goss, Valarie Moore, Nancy Casazza and Samantha Speaks.  For the rest of the project we were to play dual roles within our group to gain perspective for what it is like to go through vendor selection as a Healthcare Organization (HCO) and also as the Vendor.  The HCOs interests were to request Request for Proposals (RFPs) for the development of a new website for the organization.  With the groups assigned, the first assignment was to individually prepare a Statement of Work (SOW) outlining the requirements needed for the HCO.   We then took all of the individual SOWs and then merged them into a cohesive statement after considering all the different perspectives of the group. From here, we worked together and came up with the RFP.

Pretending that the RFP went out to a number of vendors, Karin Lindgren with her legal perspective as a professor read and responded back to every group RFP.  The groups task then was to consider the RFP responses and select a vendor and prepare a thorough analysis to the HCO Board of Directors articulating the decision criteria that led to the decision.   We advanced then to contract negotiation and Professor Lindgren again took lead by presenting contracts with purposely planted "issues" that would require negotiation between perspectives of the HCO and vendor with their differing interests.

This lead to the last and most enjoyable assignment for me in the class.  Our teams were divided into roles and we were told who would be representing the vendor or HCO.  Myself and Val Moore were assigned as the vendor team. Without knowing the other's perspective we were brought back together where we held a negotiation session to come to agreement on 3-5 key issues we had with the contractual terms that both sides had recommended in forming an agreement.  We were able to put into practice the tactics that were outlined in the Ury text.

I enjoyed this class very much and while not knowing what to expect by the class name and description, I walked away with a better understanding of my responsibilities in the negotiation process. While learning in the class, I was also practicing in real life at work with the two vendor selections I was participating. Throughout the group activities, we were also asked to "wear the hat" of C-level and this was a valuable experience as well as it forced me to think outside of my normal view and I gained a broader purview of the concerns and issues that an executive might have in considering the interests of the organization.

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