Tips for Selecting Digital Health Technology Suppliers


SCOPE session discusses key challenges of evaluating potential providers.

When it comes to selecting Digital Health Technologies (DHT) providers, there are numerous factors that need to be considered when deciding.

In the discussion, “Key Considerations for Evaluating and Selecting Technology Suppliers for Digital Health Technologies,’ held at the 14th Annual Summit for Clinical Ops Executives (SCOPE) meeting in Orlando, Sonali Bhatnagar, associate director of clinical innovation & digital health, R&D, sourcing & procurement for Merck, examined the trials associated with evaluating, selecting, and onboarding new suppliers and the questions that should be considered.

Bhatnagar explained the need to include enough time for negotiating, or it could lead to a frustrating experience. “We need to make sure we build enough time to build a relationship with the supplier and deliver good things for our patients,” she said.

She also stressed the importance of understanding the role of subcontractors, and the extent that they impact the project. “If they were to be acquired, we would need to have a backup plan. Ultimately, we’re responsible for getting data back. We need to make sure we’re having those conversations with subcontractors beforehand.”

Communication is vital to selecting the correct vendor…companies need to make expectations clear prior to any agreement. “Responsibilities need to be clear in regard to what we are doing, what they are doing,” explained Bhatnagar. “Tie-in your milestones to payments.”

At each stage of negotiations, Bhatnagar believes that an appropriate assessment should be conducted.

“We want to build fast, but we also want to follow our policies and keep going,” she said. “Have a conversation at each stage to see how things are going.”

Key performance indicators (KPI) were also recommended as something important to the negotiation process, especially for newer vendors. According to Bhatnagar, KPIs can be helpful based on the scope of the project, and where they make sense.

Bhatnagar wrapped up her presentation with some final thoughts to consider. These include:
• Does it work the way we expect it to?
• What are the regulatory implications?
• What markets are we thinking?
• What would the cost of clinical trials look like?

Bhatnagar, Sonali. Key Considerations for Evaluating and Selecting Technology Suppliers for Digital Health Technologies. Presented at : SCOPE; Feb. 6-8, 2022; Orlando, Fla.

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