The eHealth Centre of Excellence, a Waterloo, Ontario–based organization that advances and promotes digital health initiatives in clinical care, developed and assessed an innovative evaluation procurement framework. The purpose of the framework was to assess and support long-term vendor–organization procurement partnerships to develop, improve and expand electronic referral (eReferral) solutions. The framework focused on six criteria: the quality of the eReferral solution, its implementation, the service provided, the extent of training and knowledge transfer, the quality of the vendor's team and the vendor's project experience. These domains were further defined by components and key performance indicators unique to the eReferral solution to accommodate the stakeholders' specified needs as well as change management challenges to create value for users and organizations in long-term relationships. The evaluation used both qualitative and quantitative methodologies. The framework used data from three sources: (1) the System Coordinated Access program and vendor team experience surveys that focused on the six criteria mentioned earlier; (2) key stakeholder interviews that focused on system quality, user satisfaction and perception of net benefits; and (3) a vendor scorecard that focused on deliverables and efficiencies. Vendor procurement should be viewed not as a process that ends when a vendor is selected but rather as a continuing and evolving relationship. Evaluation should assess the ability and willingness of vendors to support stakeholders and meet their needs, stimulate new ideas and adapt to changing environments and expanding systems. The model enabled recording of factors necessary for successful outcomes and provided a strategy to help select vendors for successful long-term partnerships.
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