It's been a couple of years since the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced five Distance Learning and Telemedicine (DLT) grant awards to help provide treatment for the growing opioid epidemic in rural central Appalachia. The DLT award includes nearly $1.4 million for five projects in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia to help these areas address the epidemic. Baptist Health decided to take on the epidemic wiht the help of telemedicne solutions from Polycom.
We had a chance to speak with Chris Holcomb, Executive Director of Behavioral Health at Baptist Health and Anthony Powers, Vice President of Patient Care at the organization to talk about the grants process and what they plan on doing with this highly sought after award. Here’s what they had to say:
Polycom: Can you talk a little bit about the challenges you were facing that drove you to apply for the USDA grant and develop your program?
CH: One of the biggest barriers for individuals residing in a rural area is the distance to see a specialist. Economic hardships for families should not prevent them from receiving quality care. Our commitment is to improve the lives of individuals in our communities so we decided that creating various telemedicine access points would help to reduce that problem. Another challenge has been the sustained recruitment of medical providers in our rural area. By offering telemedicine as a component of our treatment model, we can cast a larger net to recruit providers without having them commute to our hub location.
Polycom: How did you get started with the grants process? And what was your experience with the Polycom Grant Assistance Team?
CH: From a quality and care transitions standpoint, we realized a gap in our medical-based services and felt that telemedicine could help fill that void. I reached out to various professionals nationwide and learned of the potential grant opportunities. We formed a great relationship with the Polycom Grant Assistance Team and they have been absolutely amazing. They are a dedicated group with amazing subject matter experts. They helped us to navigate through the grant process while coordinating every meeting. They are truly remarkable and I can’t emphasize that enough.
Polycom: Can you tell us at a high level what your plans are for your telemedicine/treatment program at Baptist Health?
CH: The ultimate goal is to give our customers another option in their medical care instead of the traditional face-to-face appointment. Our hope is to start with a telemedicine program within the behavioral health specialty and expand services to other professional disciplines. Some of our goals include: reducing wait times for appointments, decreasing consumer costs via travel, and developing a statewide system of providers to meet the needs of our customers.
Polycom: How do you see your telemedicine program helping address the opioid crisis in Kentucky and Tennessee?
CH: The opioid epidemic has been widespread in central Appalachia for roughly two decades and overdose deaths continue to steadily rise. Our goal is to provide more access points for care and consultation. Individuals battling substance use disorders typically don’t understand where or how to seek treatment. We plan to utilize telemedicine to help patients determine the appropriate level of care so they can begin their journey to recovery.
PSV: Are there any tips or advice you could give others interested in pursuing a grant for collaboration technology?
CH: The Polycom Grant Assistance Team is very knowledgeable and I would recommend them for anyone considering a technology grant. Be sure to involve as many community stakeholders as you can, even outside your agency, because collaborative relationships can help secure the resources needed for the greater goal of improving community health.
Are you part of an organization looking to implement telemedicine but need help with funding? The Polycom Grants Assistance Team is here to help! Clickhereto find out more.
Red Cross Children’s Hospital, Cape Town, South Africa is building a hospital of the future with Polycom video, voice and content sharing solutions and with the support of our partner Kathea.
We recently shared the Red Cross Children’s Hospital CATHCHAT story, and how the hospital is making a difference from their base in Cape Town, South Africa. We’ve been working really closely with our partner Kathea and the hospital to deploy solutions that will serve the hospital for the future and support their journey in building a brighter future for their patients.
The hospital receives around 260,000 patient visits each year, the majority of which are from exceptionally poor and marginalized communities and one third of the patients are younger than a year old.
The hospital faced a growing need for cardiac procedures in young patients, but had limited resources and access to highly experienced pediatric cardiologists. In an effort to broaden their ability to serve patients and to expand their local physician’s education, the hospital chose to implement Polycom video collaboration solutions in their pediatric interventional cardiac catheterization lab.
As a result of installing Polycom collaboration infrastructure, including Polycom® RealPresence® Web Suite and Polycom® RealPresence® Media Suite with the support of our partner, Kathea, the hospital professionals, are now equipped to learn from highly experienced cardiologists from across Africa and beyond to learn and teach paediatric interventional cardiac catheterisation live and in real time.
This open channel of learning will enable the hospital to connect with experts in remote locations whilst in theatre and during CATHCHAT sessions for guidance during complex procedures. The approach of the hospital is changing with an intention to build an efficient process for the future with the support of Polycom video collaborations. Ultimately, the hospital has an objective to decrease patient waiting time and enable their cardiologists to treat even more patients than before.
Polycom has been lucky enough to join the Red Cross Children’s Hospital during their CATHCHAT session which took place March 2016, more here if you missed the details. We capture some great footage which shows the complex procedures taking place in theatre while remote, experienced pediatric cardiologists are joining via video to support and advise where required. Additionally, we were able to joining learning and teaching sessions where doctors and experts from the hospital are able to share their knowledge and experience. To better understand the journey the hospital is taking with the support of Polycom and Kathea, please watch this short video clip or read the full case study here.
The CATHCHAT weeks have been very successful. With Polycom and Kathea, the Red Cross Children’s Hospital is building its concept to secure a bigger and better future for the people of Western Cape.
Note - CATHCHAT is an invitation only session designed for medical professionals involved in paediatric cardiology, but interested partners and the general public can follow the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #CATHCHAT
The pressures on public health systems is well lamented in the press. No matter where we look, especially around Europe, governments are facing difficult decisions on spending the public health budget. The fact is the population in Northern Europe is steadily growing, people are getting better at looking after themselves, and we are living longer. The long promoted formula for a healthier lifestyle has resulted in healthcare providers having to adapt to meet the demand on services that will enable this formula. The services citizens expect from their health system go beyond the acute care you would expect from a hospital – diet and weight control, smoking cessation, management of long term conditions, and so on.
But what about mental health? A report from CentreForum has found one in 10 young people in the UK has a mental health problem. That equates to 720,000 children between the ages of 5 and 16. To make matters worse, the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) seems to be severely underfunded, receiving only 0.7% of the healthcare budget. That’s about £704M (€885M or $997M).
The frightening fact that stands out is that about 23% of children are turned away that are referred for therapy.
How can we improve this situation? One way is to delivery as much of the service our children and young adults need in the way they are used to – via their own device on whatever network they have access to.
Millennials and even younger generations are very used to accessing what information they need online. It often involves a personal device and they use their own smartphones, tablets or PCs to get what they want – fast. The fact is, our society has become used to getting information quickly thanks to broadband, mobile and wifi networks. And the same goes for services. So it seems antiquated and even in some areas inequitable to restrict a crucial service such as adolescent mental health without considering a virtual approach.
A large proportion of therapy can be delivered to a young adult in a secure, high quality way. Using a virtual approach to provide therapy has a number of benefits that will greatly enhance the service too. Convenience for the client (the service user) is a huge benefit. Take this as an example; for a young person to leave school or college to travel to an appointment during the day causes great disruption. It's inconvenient and could be costly; not everyone lives in a metropolitan area. There could also be a perceived stigma attached to walking into a clinic. ‘What if someone sees me?’ ‘What if I bump into someone I know and they talk about me?’ What might seem trivial to an adult could have devastating side effects for a young person.
Then there is the matter of high non-attendance or did not show (DNS) rates. Not only does failure to show for an appointment mean wasted time for the therapist (they could have been treating someone else), it also creates an inefficiency and a cost is borne.
I acknowledge not all aspects of CAHMS or Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) can be delivered in a virtual way. But for a majority of one to one sessions, it is far more efficient. A therapist who might normally travel to multiple locations, sometimes great distances apart, to see two or three clients in a day, can use that time to talk to double the number. I hesitate to use the phrase call-centre, but taking this approach can help tackle the 23% of children turned away, mentioned in the report.
The therapists working with our children and young adults do a fantastic job, often in difficult conditions. They are known as the Cinderella Service in the UK NHS because of the low budget they receive. Sharing the therapist expertise and giving them the tools to reach more of those in need will undoubtedly help to intervene earlier.
If you are interested in seeing how Polycom can help provide improved access to talking therapies, especially for children and young adults, please do get in touch with me. I will be only too happy to talk.
I’m very pleased to reveal that the Red Cross Children’s Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, has launched an exciting new initiative called CATHCHAT. CATHCHAT will allow cardiologists from across Africa and beyond to learn and teach paediatric interventional cardiac catheterisation live on the RealPresence® Platform including Polycom® RealPresence® Web Suite and
Cardiac catheterisation, also known as heart cath, is the insertion of a catheter into a chamber or vessel of the heart. In the case of Red Cross Children’s Hospital, the procedure, whether it is for diagnostic or interventional purposes, is helping save lives of children that have heart defects.
The hospital will now extend their learning sessions to the cardiologists and surgeons across Africa and the rest of the world. The participants who join the live event will be able to interact with the surgeon and contribute by posting questions, comments and suggestions during the broadcast.
The event will take place from 15th to 18th March 2016 and will witness a series of interventional cardiac catheterisation cases ranging from routine to complex. Dr Oliver Stumper from Birmingham Children’s Hospital, UK, will share his expertise during CATHCHAT.
The Red Cross Children’s Hospital has been a customer of Polycom and Kathea for many years. I’m very privileged to have seen the project from the early days to these exciting developments. Because of the advancement of the RealPresence Group Series and the RealPresence Platform, the hospital can now realise its vision of taking life saving techniques to poorer parts of Africa. This is true collaboration that defies distance and saves lives.
Because of the nature of the live procedures and to respect patient confidentiality, CATHCHAT is an invitation only session designed for medical professionals involved in paediatric cardiology, but interested partners and the general public can follow the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #CATHCHAT
I recently sat down with Veronica Southern, Clinical Lead on the Teleswallowing project for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. Coincidentally, she had attended the NHS England Chief Allied Health Professions Officers Conference 2015 in London a few days before we met. It was interesting to hear Veronica’s feedback on the conference so I decided to share our collective thoughts via this blog.
Doing more with less: Multiply the usage instead of investment
Veronica: As a firm believer of video, my recommendation to all professionals is to use collaboration technology. Not only use it, but exploit it for day-to-day jobs. Video enables staff to connect and collaborate - not just externally with patients for providing remote consultations - but also internally to defy the barriers of distance.
Polycom: We have heart-warming success stories about the many ways collaboration improves the delivery of many different types of healthcare services such as in paediatric neurology, dysphagia, dialysis, heart problems to name a few. Each case presents a unique way in which video collaboration is being used. So there is no upper limit to the number of ways a therapist, a doctor, a patient, a surgeon, a hospital or staff can use video collaboration. Be creative and the sky’s the limit.
Fewer people doing more work is not resourceful or sustainable
Veronica: The economy is tough and it is affecting professionals and therapists who are struggling to keep their heads above water. Sustaining services in tough economic time does not and should not mean staff cuts. The demand for healthcare services is at record-high levels and will continue to grow [The Kings Fund: Spending on health and social care over the next 50 years]. It means that you need to think outside of the box and that the traditional approach might need a rethink to design more advanced and sustainable ways of doing the same job. Video collaboration is one innovation that can help us achieve the results we want.
Polycom: In business, the strength of your process optimisation programmes can define and shape the workplace of the future. For healthcare, the focus for optimisation should be spread across the organisation rather than being placed on patient-to-specialist touch point only. A lot of work is also completed behind the scenes placing peer-to-peer collaboration of the staff at par. Elleuno in Italy understood this challenge, overhauled the system and are now reaping the benefits of workplace collaboration.
Ageing population means ageing staff too!
Veronica: We are yet to come face-to-face with one of the biggest challenges that the healthcare industry would ever
face – the population where a majority are elderly. About two thirds of NHS clients are aged 65 and over, and yet they only receive two fifths of total expenditure [Age UK: Later Life in the United Kingdom - July, 2015]. Healthcare specialists possess the knowledge that in many cases can be used to deliver expertise remotely and can save lives. As they themselves age, many such specialists will face age-related physical challenges but that does not mean that their clinical brains can’t still be put to good use by delivering their expertise via video rather than by home visits. We need to act now and think about the ways technology can help us meet the demands that the future will impose.
Polycom: The first 150-year old baby is already born and the new retirement age will be much higher than 65 years according to CNN. It is impossible to predict what will happen, yet we are all speculating on the future we are heading towards. As the expectancy of the average human life increases, the pressure of being able to provide healthcare services to many more people increases. And this will keep increasing as we become more advanced in medical sciences.
I recently wrote a blog about the digital consumption of WebRTC (Web Real Time Communications) to help the users improve their knowledge of the technology. WebRTC is growing in popularity and businesses are equally supportive of the new functionality.
The emergence of email, phone and instant messaging has facilitated the development of the ‘always-on’ world of today. Video collaboration solutions have strengthened the network further providing users the coveted ability to balance their work and life. For businesses, WebRTC will have a profound impact on the adoption of video and replace ‘do you want to have a quick chat?’ with ‘do you want to connect via video?’. This will not only improve the speed and quality of the business decision-making process but will also transform the way of working in the future – to carve the workplace of the future.
The proliferation of WebRTC is evident through the presence of over 2 billion WebRTC-capable devices. This is expected to increase to 6.5 billion devices by the end of 2015 according to a new piece of research. As the technology industry prepares to ride the wave of this new movement, it is important that vertical industry businesses like manufacturing, finance and the public sector also prepare to move forward. This is so they can continue maintaining their competitive edge in the market.
The initial two to three years will see a smaller scale usage that will be largely based on the pilot project development plans launched to create WebRTC based business applications. During this period companies will have the opportunity to identify and test the business applications that run on this engine. To harness the power of WebRTC, Polycom has developed WebSuite to connect the users based at different locations and using different types of devices so they can enjoy the same full HD video and voice collaboration experience.
One of the business usage examples can be seen within healthcare, where patient consultations – on the proviso that the browser is based on WebRTC – can be delivered speedily, remotely and securely via video should the patient need to attend from home. Users will have to rely on the Unified Communications (UC) solutions provided by the businesses they are connecting to for end-to-end security traversal. However it should be noted that WebRTC audio and video streams are encrypted.
The element of security is of prime importance for content collaboration. Having a secure content sharing workspace is essential for all businesses, be it financial services, public sector, manufacturing or retail. The ability to share, view and annotate content promotes faster decision-making. Until now, only one stream of content could be shared over video. Polycom WebSuite allows multiple streams of content promoting ‘informed’ decision-making and spreading the power of collaboration to more than one user at any given time.
Vertical industries can be one of the main beneficiaries of such a technology, when coupled with enterprise grade UC solutions. They will be able to connect with their customers via web collaboration technology at the touch of a button. If this is the present, imagine the future that WebRTC has the potential to bring tomorrow.
By 2050, 70% of the world’s population will live in cities*, representing an additional 2.7 billion people in the world’s urban areas. How can city leaders prepare for this influx of migrants in light of today’s challenges: aging infrastructure, tighter budgets, cyber-security threats, urbanization and the pervasive use of mobile and social technologies by citizens?
Government leaders have the power to shape the city of the future. Information and communication technology enables cities to innovate, collaborate and prosper by connecting constituents with the next-generation of public services, with the goal of improving satisfaction, increasing efficiencies and reducing costs.
Failing to properly deploy innovative solutions to mitigate the population density of cities would result in additional labour, traffic, environmental and security challenges. In this blog, I am sharing how Microsoft unified communications and Polycom collaboration solutions empower citizens, businesses and governments to transform the way people live, learn and work. You can also watch the video interview available further below to know more.
The Smart City race is on and the opportunity is big.
According to Forbes, urbanization has become so important that it has elevated some cities to be even more important than the countries themselves contributing substantially to the country’s GDP. Top of the Forbes list was New York City, which has initiated smart and sustainable initiatives such as City 24/7, an interactive platform that integrates information from government programmes, local businesses, and the city’s citizens to provide knowledge to anyone, anywhere, anytime, and on any device. Barcelona and Santander in Spain and Amsterdam have been cited as some examples of smart cities which have already begun wiring up and connecting themselves to drive better efficiency and benefits for citizens.
The Government of India has announced an ambitious 100 Smart Cities programme where State capitals as well as many tourist and heritage cities are expected to witness a rapid upgrade of urban infrastructure and online services to citizens, enabled by Information Technology. Singapore remains committed to becoming the world’s first Smart Nation that taps on ICT to better serve citizens, which will set it apart from the many Smart Cities that are already developing globally. The global race to become the Smartest City is definitely on and the business opportunity for technology vendors and integrators is tremendous.
According to Frost & Sullivan search, the Smart City market represents a USD 1.5 Trillion business opportunity globally in segments of energy, transportation, healthcare, building, infrastructure, and governance. Polycom and Microsoft are two Smart City market participants that partner with cities to address various challenges through the use of unified communication and collaboration technology.
Polycom Solutions for Microsoft CityNext: Better together!
Microsoft CityNext empowers governments, businesses, and citizens to create more sustainable, prosperous, and economically competitive cities. Broadening the city innovation conversation beyond infrastructure alone, Microsoft CityNext helps city leaders unlock the most important resource of any city—the potential of its people—by delivering citizen-centric services to help them lead safer and healthier lives and have access to quality education.
Polycom provides the most comprehensive and complete solutions for Microsoft unified communications, including voice, conferencing, and video collaboration solutions. Polycom collaboration solutions integrate seamlessly to enhance productivity along with Microsoft applications. Thus, together, we are enabling cities to provide services that put people first by designing around their needs to serve them better.
• Modern Cities – Microsoft & Polycom enable real-time, equitable and sustainable access to government information, services and city resources. Allowing city employees do their jobs better, citizens to leverage services more effectively and businesses to succeed more quickly.
• Safer Cities – Microsoft & Polycom empower justice, enforcement and defense agencies to be better prepared and respond faster to threat, disaster or emergency in their communities. Protecting the way-of-life that citizens and leaders have worked hard to establish
• Healthier Cities – Microsoft & Polycom help cities to transform healthcare models and provide collaborative care from anywhere to anyone affordably. Offering patients, providers and payers a sustainable model and better outcomes for all.
• Educated Cities – Microsoft & Polycom provide rich, interactive learning experiences that improve knowledge retention and increase productivity of every learner, teacher and instructor.
By adopting a modernization approach that works today and is sustainable into the future, government leaders can transform their cities into vibrant hubs that attract a skilled population and inbound investment to drive the city’s economy— thereby, becoming more competitive in the global economy.
Partnering to build The City of the Future
The Mega Trend of Smart Cities is set to drive urban development for the next decade and will drive demand for response, storage, multi-energy networks, smart devices, and new business models (Telehealth, Distance Learning, Next-gen Citizen and Emergency Services…) leveraging unified communication and collaboration solutions. As a Microsoft and/or Polycom Partner, you should be at the forefront of this change helping to build the City of the Future, which is more modern yet sustainable, educated, safer and healthier for all.
Visit us at WPC 2015
If you happen to be at WPC, please visit the Polycom Booth #1501. Ask for my colleagues, Andrew Graley or Robert Birch who will share with you how we can work together to address this market opportunity. You can also contact us to know more about Polycom Solutions for Microsoft CityNext: firstname.lastname@example.org
* The World Health Organization, in their World Urbanization Prospects report for 2014.
You are invited to join the #PolycomChat organised by @PolycomEurope on 19 May 2015 at 12:30 – 13:30 BST. @PolycomEurope will host an open Q&A on Twitter to answer all your questions about the use of collaboration technology in the healthcare sector.
Join the Q&A on the day by tweeting your questions using #PolycomChat. Alternatively, you can post your questions on our FaceBook page (if you don’t have a twitter account), or email your questions to email@example.com in advance. We will endeavour to answer all your questions on 19 May or otherwise be in touch with you to provide a response.
About #PolycomChat panel
Andrew Graley, EMEA Director Healthcare – Polycom, will host the Q&A with a virtual panel of experts including Mark Evans, Imerja and Veronica Southern, Independent Healthcare Consultant. The Q&A is open for customers, partners, the press, analysts and anyone with questions on technology in healthcare.
Andrew and the panel will answer all questions on how telehealth is having an impact on healthcare, and how technology more broadly is helping to improve healthcare processes.
With budgets being squeezed across the board, the healthcare sector is constantly searching for innovations to improve the delivery and efficiency of its services. Technology is able to provide any number of solutions to help relieve the many pressures on the health system, and as current technologies evolve it really can help distribute the highest quality care to every single person in the country. Video collaboration technology is having a big impact in providing more effective ways for patients needing daily treatment or medication monitoring, where a nurse or doctor is required to be present at certain times.
So how is Video-as-a-Service (VaaS) helping the healthcare sector? VaaS is a centrally managed hosted video conferencing solution that can be delivered on demand to provide the highest quality experience, without the need to invest in your own infrastructure equipment. Our innovative, simple to use, secure and reliable VaaS uses Polycom’s high quality video and audio conferencing technology, through a flexible, hosted solution that allows clinicians to remotely assess and make an informed decision on treatment for patients. It provides them with the same equal quality of service as if they were face to face with the patient.
The great thing about this solution is that it can be applied to many different scenarios that facilitate the provision of care and has improved patient experiences within a numerous healthcare organisations. The technology is the same in every implementation, but the applications are almost endless, and we have already deployed the VaaS solution across multiple departments in different hospital sites with great success.
Alder Hey Hospital pediatric neurology department have benefited hugely by removing the need for travel, allowing patients to access niche specialist care regardless of their – or the clinicians’ – geographical location.
Patients of Lancashire Teaching Hospital’s renal department were given more independence, enabling them to perform dialysis at home in a comfortable and familiar environment while being safe in the knowledge that expert help was at hand should they require it.
The VaaS solution is also able to provide a rapid response service and has already saved numerous lives or dramatically improved the quality of patients lives post-stroke, as part of the Lancashire and Cumbria Telestroke Network, which ensures that people in the region have 24/7 access to the experts which can deliver thrombolysis treatment following a stroke.
Blackpool Victoria Hospital’s Speech and Language Therapy department clinicians and therapists are now able to respond quickly should any elderly nursing home residents, some of whom may have previously suffered a stroke, get into difficulty when eating or drinking.
A patient at home receives advice while dialysising
Thus far we’ve received extremely positive feedback, highlighting the significant changes the VaaS has made to patients’ lives. Video-as-a-Service has no doubt helped to improve the patient experiences and outcomes and has also helped these hospitals realise significant cost savings. Secondary benefits of the solution include:
Enabling medical specialists around the country to collaborate remotely, heightening the quality of their communication and dissemination of best practice.
Freeing up hospital beds, which are always in high demand, providing a 100% utilization rate of across each hospital.
Prevents clinics from being overcrowded and allows the space to be used more effectively.
On the patient’s side, those living in the most remote locations can speak with a specialist at the other end of the country if need be. Saving them and their support network money, time and the stress of travelling.
Imerja is proud to have designed and implemented such an innovative solution which benefits both patients and the healthcare system as a whole. Like many other telehealth solutions available today, the VaaS service has serious potential to revolutionise the provision of care in the UK and beyond. So, whether it‘s deployed to support telehealth, telemedicine, teleconsultation or teletherapy applications – or simply to provide a more accessible platform for teaching or facilitating multi-disciplinary team meetings – VaaS has the potential to transform the way we choose to deliver and receive healthcare, and realize better experiences and outcomes for all parties.
We’ve plenty of evidence to support the importance of video within the healthcare industry, both in clinical and administrative environments, but what about practical advice? A telemedicine deployment needs careful planning and consideration if you are going to derive productivity gains and cost savings, and most importantly; improve patient outcomes. Derived from my experience, here are the top five considerations:
Establish a workgroup or steering committee of individuals from your organisation who will contribute to the selection of a solution. These should include someone from IT/networks, a clinician or medical person who will actually use the solution, a finance person who will be involved in justifying the cost and producing the business plan or approving the purchase, and – most importantly – a trusted partner from industry, such as a consultant, subject matter expert or supplier who has experience in this area. (I can help you with this one if you need help finding a trusted partner – feel free to get in touch with me.)
Clearly define the objective for implementing a solution based on technology. If you want a method of providing emergency medical second opinion during out of hours, put the reason in a concise statement, leaving out the technology aspect and concentrating on the application
Get everyone to meet and produce an Output Based Specification (OBS) of what you want the solution to do. Again, leaving out the technology, the OBS document should have input from each of the steering committee. IT will want to ensure the solution doesn’t eat up all their network bandwidth and is secure enough to discuss patient confidential information. The clinician will want to ensure the solution offers clear, uninterrupted conversation and is simple to use, yet consistently reliable. Gather each of these requirements and list them in sections in your OBS. (I have a template for an OBS if you need one – get in touch.)
Invite your suppliers to demonstrate and present their solution to you. Ask them where else their solution is in use. Seeking user references is by far the best method of peer recommendation you can get. You can learn from their experiences, both good and bad
Perhaps most important is to check their solutions are interoperable. Do they work with the majority of other manufacturer’s technology? You are going to trust your investment and the way you deliver your future service to your patients with these people
Let me know if you need more information as to how to find a trusted partner or how to complete and Output Based Specification (OBS).