Hospital Tech Proposals – 7 Best Practices to Wow Execs

by Cassling on Jul 13, 2017

Executive-Team.jpgSurgeons love the machine. The clinical data is strong. The finances make sense.

Now comes the most important part: convincing your executive team to approve the expenditure, with a hospital tech proposal that’s irresistible to even the most cost-conscious board. 

But where do you even begin? 

It’s impossible to overestimate how critical a first impression is to adoption of your must-have tech. Dawn Vocke, MSN, MBA, CNOR, Director of Surgical Services at UPMC St. Margaret in Pittsburgh, and Joe DiRenzo, UPMC’s Director of Finance, have seen promising tech installations fail because the proposal wasn’t up to par.

In a recent webinar sponsored by Cassling, Dawn and Joe offered advice for anyone trying to persuade hospital leadership to invest in new technology. 


“If your proposal’s going to the president or the board or whoever needs to approve big moves like this,” Dawn said, “you don’t want it coming back to you with a notice that says ‘We need more information’. That slows everything down and, in the long run, it damages your credibility.”

Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen. The following are the seven best practices that every hospital tech proposal needs to follow. Nail these fundamentals and you’ll have a much easier time attaining buy-in from the C-suite.

  1. Your Executive Summary Sets the Tone

First impressions matter. The executive summary is a make-or-break opportunity for your proposal. Wow your organization’s leadership from the start, and you’ve won half the battle. Start off on the wrong foot, they may not even get to your advanced research and statistics.  

“A bad executive summary,” Joe said, “is a dumping of facts, no analysis, no summation, no compelling reason why this change has to happen.”

Dawn agrees. “I can’t stress clarity enough. To get what you need, you have to make sure your goal is clearly defined.”

Simplifying a complex business decision into a few short pages is an art unto itself. If you can concisely capture why your hospital should purchase this new medical equipment, your executives will be on board even before they start digging into the real meat of your proposal.

  1. Tell a Story

Clarity and brevity are only the beginning. You need creativity, too. 

“Your executives will look at any proposal and they’ll think, ‘How does this address our existing priorities?’ You have to connect the dots.”

Apply some lateral thinking. Find the thorny problems leadership struggles with and use storytelling to show how tech adoption enables them to overcome those challenges. If you can point to new tech as a solution, executives will be hungry for it.

Dawn says it also helps to look at the future: “If you see a regulatory change coming down the pipeline, and you can connect your tech purchase to meeting that change, that’s a great way to get leverage to make a new investment.”

When you do this, you give the C-suite the very tools they need to address KPIs, regulatory hurdles, and more. That makes them look good, and it makes you look great!

  1. Know Your Market

Hospital leaders get to where they are because they make smart business decisions. And every smart move in business starts with solid insight into the market.

“It’s crucial to know your facility’s market, discover the need out there, and then base your technology purchases on the services that your community demands,” Joe said.

Do the legwork and then prove that you did the legwork. Point to market conditions and set realistic expectations for how the technology will perform. Pique the interest of the savvy business minds at the top of your hospital’s organization by providing real, honest solutions based on healthcare market research.

  1. Turn Assumptions into Guarantees

Be careful about including any off-base projections into your proposal. Check your figures, evaluate your theories and be clear about what data you’ve relied upon for your analysis.

Service volumes, for instance, change all the time. The needs of your organization may shift while you’re in the middle of drafting your proposal, but that’s not going to matter to executives who expect you to know the latest information. Do one last run-through and make sure you have the most up-to-date figures prior to finalizing your presentation.

Joe has a story about this. “On one project,” he said, “we were ordering new surgical scopes, and conditions had changed in the facility. Nobody thought to ask the question – do we still need to renew this many scopes? Do we have the volume to justify this?”

Joe and the UPMC team caught the mistake and saved themselves a lot of embarrassment. Learn from their example. Only send figures up the leadership ladder once they’ve been thoroughly vetted.

  1. Enlist a Stakeholder

Often, after meeting with vendors, clinicians will bring new ideas for tech purchases. If they’re excited about a piece of equipment, don’t let them stop there. Give them an active role in advancing the acquisition.   

Dawn advises enlisting them early: “If you have a surgeon or someone else who wants this equipment, get them involved as soon as possible. They can lend some support to your case, and they can build some data on the backend so you can come prepared to leadership.”

Enthusiasm from clinical staff can go a long way toward moving the needle.

  1. Collaborate with Your Finance Team

Cost and quality negotiation can lead to disagreements between Finance and Clinical Operations. Defuse that tension by bringing everyone to the table to talk out your proposal.

“To help you, Financing needs to understand the challenges of the clinical and operations side of the business,” he said. “And believe me, we want to understand. We want to help.”

The Finance department has unique ways to contribute to your proposal’s strength. For example, “one way that your financial guys can help out – we’re great at assessing monetary risk,” Joe said. “Both the risk of making a new investment, and the risk of not moving forward with a change.”

That type of insight takes fiscal imagination, the kind that your Finance team has in spades. So invite them to the table. They can only make your proposal stronger.

  1. Dialogue is Key

The most important insight Dawn and Joe want you to take away is this: collaboration is critical to your success.

“I never do anything alone,” Dawn says. “I get Finance to look at the proposal, I get clinical eyes on the proposal, I show it to a lot of people. And that helps me make sure we get more done.”

Joe agrees. “It’s easiest to collaborate from the get-go. A proactive partnership will carry you far.”

Assemble a strong team to strengthen your proposal and your board will have every reason to approve your next tech purchase.

Let’s Get to It

Excited about drafting your next presentation? Learn more from the experts by viewing Dawn and Joe’s entire webinar, complete with a slide deck.


Meet the Author

Cassling strengthens community healthcare through customer-centric imaging and therapeutic technology, services and solutions. From critical access hospitals and diagnostic imaging centers to large health systems and IDNs, Cassling is committed to helping healthcare organizations improve access and outcomes, create efficiencies and lower costs.

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