Monday, February 3, 2014

Great Healthcare IT Vendors: Top Ten Essential Behaviors

This was originally posted on, August 2011.

A few weeks ago, a noteworthy healthcare consulting firm asked for input they could pass on to vendors that would help those vendors understand the relationship imperatives critical to a healthcare CIO, right now, in today’s market.
After giving this topic a few days of background thought, I concluded two things:  (1)  At least 60% of the imperative relationship advice that I give today applies at any time in history; and (2)  My current Cerner account representative, Lisbeth Fabiny, was a great source of reference.  I found myself asking, “Why do I value Liz’s support so much?  What does she do that makes her feel so valuable?”
It is worth noting, that I have nothing to gain by offering meaningless compliments to Liz or by association, Cerner.  Cerner and Liz will both tell you that I can be very demanding and uncompromising in my expectations and criticisms of products, services, and expenses. But, it’s also important and proper for me to praise the positive, not just complain about the negative and in that vein, Liz is a role model for vendor support and customer relations – the best I’ve ever had in my 30-year career.
Here are the Top 10:
1.       Help Me Compete:  Help me build my “Annual Report for Information Technology” as if my IT organization were a separate, standalone business that could be outsourced.
2.       Help Me Hire:  The market for healthcare IT employees has never been more competitive.  If you know I’m having a hard time recruiting for a critical position that is important to the success of your product in my organization, help me find a great match.
3.       Help Me Measure:  The Age of Analytics in healthcare is just beginning.  Our industry is way behind in the proper use of data to drive costs down and quality up.  Help me address my short term analytic needs, but do so within the scope of a longer term strategy.
4.       Help Me Save: Simplify your licensing, billing and contract administration.  Make it as easy as possible for me to manage my expenses with you, and especially make it easy to predict and budget for increases in prices due to inflation, increased number of users, transactions, etc.  When you give me a new contract to sign, put a face sheet on it that summarizes the key issues and terms – don’t make me read 15 pages of legal jargon.  Likewise, if you know of a creative way for me to reduce licensing fees, try to be motivated by our long term relationship instead of your immediate potential loss of commission.   You will win more of my business, easily.
5.       Help Me Listen: Be proactive in extracting the ROI and value from your products.  Help me look good and thus make your product look good, too.  If you know that I’m under-utilizing your products or have them configured improperly in some way, pester me until I fix it.  I’m busy and juggle lots of priorities. Be the squeaky wheel until I listen.
6.       Help Me Expand: Annual conferences and blogs are not enough for me to keep up with everything going on in healthcare right now.  Help me build close relationships with a limited number (3-4) of peers or mentors who have a similar organization, product mix, and profile so we can learn from one another.  Force us to meet and hold a conference call every once in awhile.  Facilitate the meetings. Help us reuse strategies, policies, and technology as much as possible.
7.       Help Me Plan: Help me build my strategic roadmap by overlaying the needs and culture of my organization with your products and the future outlook of the industry.  Look ahead for me and pester me until I build that roadmap with you.  I am particularly concerned about the growing sophistication of cyber attacks.  And I’m also concerned that I’m not leveraging mobile computing as well as I could. Push me on these two issues, please.
8.       Help Me Migrate: Help me build the cheapest, safest, quickest path to ACO and ICD-10 adoption for my company and critical partners in the insurance industry.
9.       Help Me Prove:  Help me build the cheapest, safest, quickest path to Meaningful Use qualification for my company, and don’t charge me anything extra, because this is something you should have done for every customer a long time ago.  The Meaningful Use legislation forced it but, like HIPAA, we should have been doing this all along.
10.   Help Me Evolve:  ACOs are coming; one way or another.  Even if they are nebulous right now, we know that there are certain characteristics that will survive.  In particular, you better have a product strategy for both engaging patients in greater accountability for their own care and the changes in the revenue cycle required for managing the risk of bundled payments.

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