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Home / News & IndustryManaged Care Insight and Analysis
Updated: March 9, 2010
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 reaching funders.

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 said.

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 pointed out.

"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.


  This article was taken from:
The Executive Report on Managed Care

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