|Need For Data Raises Need For Health IT: Gap Assistance Programs Seen As Cost Effective Way To Funding IT
The best strategy for achieving grants for healthcare
information technology (IT) is joining a gapassistance program (GAP),
which can save an organization time and money while effectively
GAPs are the less traveled paths that prove to be
fruitful, according to Michael Christopher, chief technology officer
and senior development analyst with the Healthcare IT Transition Group.
"The big deal here is that scale economies come into
play, because a vendor can develop language to promote their technology
to funders one time," said Christopher.
GAPs become cost effective due to the specific nature of their function.
"They don’t have to have one [RFP] for every
different technology that a provider needs, they just need their own
technology. They will also know who the funders are over a period of
time and what funders at federal and state levels are going to be most
amenable to talking about funding these projects," he said.
Due to vendors’ need to push their technology
"they’re going to have done these grants for the organizations,
federal programs and state programs, once before and those can become
boilerplate," Christopher said.
Before merging with a GAP, Christopher explains there are steps organizations must take.
Those looking for grants become customers of the
vendors, Christopher said, but a team is needed from proposal writing
to grant implementation.
Creating The GAP Team
On the customer side the vice president or director of
development and the chief information officer or IT director should be
the corner points of the relay team. Then there should be a funding
project lead captain and an IT project lead. To round out the
customer’s team a GAP liaison should be chosen.
The vendor’s team is usually comprised of the GAP
program director, a sales/customer service representative, a grant
writer and an account manager representative.
"The GAP liaison I’m talking about mirrors your
account manager representative relationship. But instead of being
connected with the IT project lead this particular personnel is
connected with the funding project captain, who generally works for the
vice president of development within the institution," Christopher
Dealing With Ethical Issues
Next ethical considerations should be taken into account, Christopher suggested.
The first ethical question Christopher poses is, "Can
non-profit organizations purchase from vendors who were involved in
helping raise the money?"
"I’m not a lawyer, but this is considered an arms
length transaction," meaning the vendor should not serve on the vendor
selection committee and there should be full disclosure on both sides
of any potential conflicts, Christopher said during "How To Get Funding
And Support For Your HealthcareIT Projects," a recent audio Webcast,
sponsored by Health Resources Publishing.
Secondly, all back doors should be closed. Whenever
partnering with vendors they tend to gather their own business
intelligence and collect information on other affiliated vendors, he
"It’s just a matter of remembering that silence is
golden and we want to be sure we don’t pass information through
walls that they shouldn’t pass through," Christopher explained.
Finally, payment issues finish the ethical questioning.
"All major fundraising organizations agree that you
can’t base the pay for someone who does grant writing or other
parts of development on dollars raised. This is a little bit different
environment that we’re used to as vendors where we pay
commission; that doesn’t happen here. You can base incentives on
other kinds of things, but you can’t on dollars raised."
Public-Only GAPs Most Common
After a team is built and questions answered, the last step is to choose the best fitting GAP.
There are two types of GAPs, Christopher said, public-only and the public and private type.
"There is the public-only GAP that is by far the most
common right now. Health IT has not found its way into private
philanthropy to a great degree yet, which means there is still plenty
of money on the table," Christopher said.
Public-only GAPs are highly competitive for limited
government funds, they are program oriented and easily scalable with
partial automation. The downside is that "government programs tend to
go away and shift at political will," he said.
The public and private GAPs tend to have a larger pool
of funds, long-term stability, and are people oriented, but they are
known to be fragmented. However, "you’ll find that local
foundations, once they have adopted an area of need that area of need
does not change after long periods of time; we’re talking
decades," Christopher said.
Editor’s Note: A CD-ROM recording of the speaker presentations and all conference materials for "How to Get Funding and Support for Your Healthcare IT Projects" is now available to order online at www.healthresourcesonline.com/edu/hit.htm or by calling toll-free (800) 516-4343.
Address: Healthcare IT Transition Group, 5810 East Skelly Dr., Suite 715, Tulsa, OK 74135; (918) 392-0567.