How to conduct a vendor demo that doesn’t waste your time

Vendor demonstrations take time, energy and attention from a range of critically important staff, but often decision-makers make a big mistake. Instead of exercising your control over the demonstration, the vendors are left to run the show, spending more time than necessary showing features that might not be your priority, and not showing features that are critical to your practice. This scenario can be prevented by going into a vendor demo with clear objectives, a set timeframe, a list of the clinical encounter scenarios that you typically see, and precise knowledge of what’s important to you and what you want to see demonstrated.

In addition to addressing your issues and concerns, vendors should also exhibit certain “soft skills” such as the ability to understand your needs and demonstrate what you ask for, a desire to engage you by asking questions, and a willingness to think outside the box and deviate from their prepared script.

Conversely, be wary of those vendors who exhibit red flag behaviors in demos, such as one-sided conversations, or discussion of solutions before they understand your needs. You’ll know this is happening if you feel that the vendor is exclusively in “sell mode”. The liberal use of technical jargon to impress or confuse is also a red flag. And, watch out for vendors who make promises about future features, as these might not materialize (the reason such features are known as vaporware). If the vendor exhibits these behaviors, politely excuse yourself.


Michael Uretz is a thirty-year healthcare IT veteran and nationally-recognized Electronic Health Records (EHR) and healthcare software expert.