Today’s posting is all about gold. After my last note, someone had posted a suggestion that all negotiations should follow The Golden Rule. I agree that “doing unto others” serves all people well, both professionally and personally. Yet this note will be about the other golden rule, the one which brings order to the Dark Side: he who has the gold makes the rules.
In our HIS universe, The Dark Side’s source of power is actually derived from HIS executives who control the allocation of countless bags of gold. As a hospital IS exec who has this gold, you bear a fiduciary duty to your organization to impose your rules when setting out on a process that ends with dispersing cash to deserving (or undeserving) vendors. After my last post, another reader astutely noted that this duty is shirked in “three out of every four projects,” lending much cred to my assertion that “you (collectively) don’t know the power of the Dark Side”.
Most research on this topic concludes that today’s software project failure rate is around 66%. We on the Dark Side know this. We earn BILLIONS of dollars selling you $3 worth of software or services to deliver $1 worth of value. This 3:1 cycle powers the Dark Side.
We pay good sales people hundreds of thousands of dollars. We employ armies of storm troopers who are better paid, better trained, and often better looking than their opposite number at the hospital in order to keep this so. We build illusionary demos that touch upon your deepest desires. We learn which ones of you can be taught, fought, or bought. Right before HIMSS, we do things like send Mephisto shoes to all the Ingas in our sales forecast. And occasionally, when we sense that one of your best staff have enough midichlorians, we purchase their soul and lure them away to join us.
As compensation for all these efforts, you continue to pay us $3 for every $1 of delivered value. We sell you software that doesn’t work and you keep coming back for more. This is power!
Can you just image Jacques Cousteau narrating a documentary on this unique ecosystem? “‘ere we see zee energetic ZIO, bizily darting in en out among zee magnifizent coralz near zee ocean floor, building and rebuilding two of heez three nests, over and over again; blissfully unzaweare of zee predators stealing heez eggs right in front of heem… What vill become of zis endearing creature?”
In real life, you need look no further than the musings of this HIStalk post over the past several weeks for some outstanding examples of where HIS vendors are putting the golden rule into solid practice. HIStalk readers were more than a little upset to learn that Allscripts CEO Glen Tullman was whispering in the ear of our new president to “help” to determine where the billions of dollars of federal stimulus funds ought to be deposited (I wonder if he mentioned the 3:1 ratio? “um, Barack, Mr. President, Sir … we’re actually going to need more like $6B for this thing. $4B will be for projects that we already know aren’t going to work out…”).
Our new Healthcare Czar, Kathleen Sebelius, is/was on the Board of the very architects of the Death Star itself. And now, right after the passing of the stimulus bill and just before HIMSS, there is indignation that Wal-Mart is entering the EMR market with eClinicalWorks (did anyone really think Girish was sitting idly by while Glen had his feet up on the table in the Roosevelt Room?) I, for one, am anxiously awaiting Jonathan Bush’s raise in this particular hand!
As an industry, you have become adept at giving away your power. The gold starts with you, but you are not using it to make the rules.
Don’t agree? A month from now, you are going to let an actor, Dennis Quaid, who recently suffered through the scare of all scares, tell you how to do a better job in delivering safer healthcare. I recall being at Mardi Gras one year when Mr. Quaid was King of the Bacchus Krewe, throwing beads to half-naked women. That seemed at the time to be a position of pretty high authority. He does have quite a lot of gold as well. These credentials obviously give him the power to start making some healthcare rules. I hope he says to buy more software …
What is the answer? Just like it was for the fictional Luke Skywalker, it is to look within. "Do, or do not; there is no try," Luke was told. Your Board, CEO, VP, and general public should be asking the same thing of you. Why is it acceptable to you that two out of every three of your projects fail? Why is it OK that you give away 66% of your gold in exchange for something that did not achieve its goals? Why do you and your staff forego the diligence that you would invest in your own personal spending when buying HIS software based on a sales demo and a visit to a showcase site? Why do you keep paying for, and keep buying, s@#! that don’t work?
Are we on the Dark Side that good?
Ricky Roma is a vendor sales guy who understands that only one thing counts in this world: get them to sign on the line which is dotted.