6 Questions to Ask When Choosing Your EMS CAD
It’s stressful. Buying CAD (computer-aided dispatch) software, that is. It’s a big-ticket item that most agencies don’t purchase often, perhaps only once every 10 or 15 years. If you’ve gone through the process before, you know it involves lots of meetings, decisions, approvals and, well, opinions.
But you also know that really first-rate EMS dispatching software is worth its weight in gold. Especially these days. Technology has advanced to the degree that your automated dispatch system can now use predictive artificial intelligence to deploy your fleet, automate planning and easily integrate with products you already use. Here’s a short list of questions to help choose your organization’s next CAD wisely.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR TEAM
What are our goals? This may seem incredibly obvious, but I’m going to encourage you to really think about how you’d answer this question. Too often, I meet agencies that haven’t completely thought this through. If you’re replacing your existing CAD—which is typically the case—you don’t want to replace it with exactly the same thing, right? Technology has almost certainly advanced since the last time you implemented 911 CAD software.
When it comes to answering the “why,” sometimes an organization is unhappy with their current vendor; perhaps they’re not getting the customer support they need. Or maybe your existing EMS billing or dispatching solution isn’t keeping up with the changes in your business and you’ve outgrown your current product. It could be that your CAD is not being maintained or that it’s unstable. Any of these are good reasons to look for new EMS dispatching software.
Knowing precisely what you need should play a big role in what you choose, after all. Use this as the perfect opportunity to review your operations and your specific goals, whether that’s improving response times, cutting costs, reducing training time for staff, or any other targets you want to meet.
How will we handle the internal process of choosing and updating our CAD? No matter which vendor you choose, they should advise you on how their products and services can meet your needs, demonstrate how their solution will fit your requirements, and implement and support that solution.
But the CAD vendor can’t – and shouldn’t – drive the conversations between your staff and your key stakeholders.
By establishing regular, clear two-way communication channels between you and your team right from the start of the process of choosing computer-aided dispatch software, you’re helping to ensure that implementation goes as smoothly and quickly as possible. If you’re assembling a team to make the decision, include field personnel, a dispatch supervisor or some of your most skilled dispatchers or telecommunicators along with management, a fleet supervisor, an IT representative and someone from your billing department. Managing change gets a lot easier when all the right stakeholders are present and understand what’s happening along the way, plus you gain better insight into what they need.
QUESTIONS TO ASK POTENTIAL VENDORS
When and how will you show me how your CAD works? It’s natural to want to spend a lot of time preparing and refining your RFP (request for proposals) when lining up prospective vendors. You want to be sure they’ll deliver the specifics of what you need, after all.
But what’s much more important (and, frankly, I don’t see often enough) is devoting ample time for customers to see exactly how their new CAD will work and to ask questions. Where we see the biggest successes aren’t with clients who’ve had a formal RFP we responded to, but with those who’ve spent a lot more time – several hours, at least – on product demonstrations with us, where their entire stakeholder group has had time to ask questions. When we can show them directly in the system how Logis IDS or another of our products will work, they understand exactly what we mean when we say we support a feature that’s important to them.
Time spent with your vendor understanding your CAD also gives the vendor the chance to offer you new and better ways of doing something, potentially making the process smoother, easier and less costly than you might expect. So often RFPs either describe what is essentially a replacement of what an agency already has, or they list all the features the agency doesn’t have or that don’t work in their existing CAD that they definitely want in their new one. But what if you don’t know what all the possibilities are? You can’t write requirements for a new system if you don’t know all your options, right?
You can see potential solutions you never would have thought of if your vendor demonstrates functionality directly in a product you’re considering buying. (The show-and-tell process is also good for the vendor, since it means we know we can meet your expectations and we haven’t misinterpreted any requirements in your RFP. Win-win.)
If you do still choose to write an RFP, my advice is to keep it simple and frame your requirements in broad terms, letting potential vendors describe to you in detail – and show you – how they will meet your needs.
Do I really need that feature(s)?
At Logis Solutions, we offer a wide variety of products for EMS and medical transport companies to choose from – from our flagship CAD software, Logis IDS, to outpatient management and billing modules and a key performance indicator dashboard. But it may well be that, you don’t need all those bells and whistles. If you’re only doing non-emergency transports, there’s no point in buying our emergency recommendation engine, for example. In the same way that your CAD vendor should be able to present you with solutions you hadn’t even considered, they should also tell you when a feature is nice-to-have versus necessary.
Will your software integrate with our other solutions?
There’s no one-size-fits-all vendor for both CADs and all connected solutions—someone who does everything, for every agency or organization. But the one thing you must be sure of is that whoever you choose is very good at interoperability, meaning they can integrate with any other software and functionality you use.
It’s only when you the combine the power of a modern computer-aided dispatch system with other products that you can automate the entire workflow between dispatchers or across multiple call centers. That’s why we use open APIs that make it simple and painless to integrate with other solutions. If you’re not sure that a CAD you’re considering is compatible with your current products, ask for documentation that shows how the integration will work.
How will you be able to help me as my business changes?
Whatever CAD vendor you choose, they must be agile. For example, some EMS systems in the U.S. are entering into agreements with payers or other organizations that are moving away from a fee-for-service model towards one that pays per capita, or even rewards EMS services for avoiding transports. That’s a huge change not only for an agency’s dispatch system but also for their billing system. Your vendor should keep up with those changes. What’s more, any products you buy should be kept current technologically, ensuring they’re still relevant five or 10 years from now.
Perhaps most important, whatever company you choose to install and support your CAD should listen to you and do their best to understand what you’re asking for—and then translate that into something that could be added to your existing technology. When you have a true partnership with a company you trust, you can expect, too, that they will bring solutions to you that are more cost-effective or leverage something you already have. At Logis, we continually refine and enhance our products based on the feedback we get from our customers, so it goes both ways.
We’re proud to say that our clients are progressive, understanding – and they trust us. They want to try new things, and, most of all, they want to move forward. And isn’t that what we all want?
We’d love to continue the conversation about finding your next CAD. Schedule a personalized demonstration of Logis IDS today!
Logis designs cutting-edge solutions that use automation, integration and customization to give leaders in emergency medical services, fire departments, emergency communications and healthcare the information and tools they need to deliver high-quality, efficient service.