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The Perils of Broken Vendor Promises in Healthcare

The Perils of Broken Vendor Promises in Healthcare

The healthcare and biotech industries rely heavily on partnerships with vendors and suppliers to provide crucial solutions and services. However, when those vendors fail to deliver on promised functionality, it can have serious consequences for healthcare organizations and patients.

There are several key risks that can arise when vendors overpromise the functionality of their products to healthcare organizations:

Patient safety issues – If medical devices, clinical or research software, or other healthcare solutions do not work as advertised, it can directly impact patient health and safety. Faulty or inaccurate devices and software can lead to misdiagnoses, inappropriate treatments, inadequate insights, adverse events, and other issues that delay actionable insights and can harm patients.

Disrupted workflows and operations – When products fail to deliver promised capabilities, it forces healthcare organizations to scramble to find workarounds. This can severely disrupt efficient workflows and day-to-day operations throughout a healthcare system.

Wasted time and resources – Healthcare organizations invest significant time, money, training, and other resources into implementing new vendor solutions. When those products fall short, all of those organizational resources are wasted on inadequate systems.

Loss of trust in the vendor – Vendors overpromising erodes the trust between them and their customers. It becomes harder for healthcare organizations to rely on vendors’ claims when assessing new solutions. This breakdown of trust can damage those partnerships.

Reputational damage – High-profile failures of systems from major vendors can also damage the broader reputation of a healthcare organization if it draws negative media coverage. This loss of goodwill can be difficult to recover from.

The core risk is that patient care and organizational performance suffer when vendors do not deliver products that function as advertised. Healthcare and research organizations should be wary of claims that seem exaggerated and push for independent verification. 

There have been several examples of issues related to healthcare and research software offerings:

EHR System Shortcomings

Electronic health record systems are crucial for managing patient data and care coordination. Several major EHR vendors have faced criticism for failing to deliver promised capabilities, leading to usability issues for healthcare organizations. For example, a 2022 study found major deficiencies in a major EHR vendor’s algorithm for identifying social determinants of health, despite the company’s claims about its sophistication (1).Another major EHR vendor’s system for predicting sepsis risk also failed to live up to its purported accuracy when tested in the real world (2).

When EHR systems lack claimed functionalities, it can impede providers’ workflow, and ability to deliver high-quality care. The financial costs are also significant, with customers paying millions upfront for systems that do not meet expectations.

Research Software Does Not Perform as Advertised 

In addition to clinical systems, healthcare organizations rely on vendors for research software to analyze data and identify insights. However, exaggerated claims about research software capabilities can lead to wasted time and resources when the software fails to work as promised. For instance, a 2022 evaluation found major flaws in software from a clinical-stage biotech company that was supposed to analyze treatment options for cancer patients using AI (3). The algorithms failed to provide accurate predictions, despite the company’s assertions about its cutting-edge technology.

When research software cannot deliver reliable insights from data, it sets back critical healthcare initiatives to enhance diagnosis, treatment, and outcomes. Healthcare organizations invest significant sums based on vendor promises, and failure to live up to those claims squanders scarce resources.

The Risks of Overpromising

As such examples illustrate the substantial risks when vendors exaggerate or misrepresent what their products can accomplish, it also shows the pressures felt to win business and shorten development cycles; this can sometimes lead to cutting corners on proper validation. It is therefore important to pay close attention to vendors who describe their successes, but cannot provide solid proof – customers identified as references should be contacted for verification.

Overpromising erodes the trust that is foundational to productive partnerships between healthcare organizations and vendors.  

Overall, buyers and sellers share responsibility for preventing such breakdowns. Vendors must implement thorough quality assurance processes and be transparent about any limitations. Healthcare organizations must vet claims thoroughly and push for independent validation data. By working together, it can be ensured that technology deliverables for research, biotech and pharma R&D and, ultimately, patient care do not suffer when promises come up short.