Time Capsule: Camping Out for a Cerner Black Friday Door-Buster Special: Mr. HIStalk’s Plan to Stimulate the HIT Economy By Encouraging Unrestrained Holiday Season Greed
I wrote weekly editorials for a boutique industry newsletter for several years, anxious for both audience and income. I learned a lot about coming up with ideas for the weekly grind, trying to be simultaneously opinionated and entertaining in a few hundred words, and not sleeping much because I was working all the time. They’re fun to read as a look back at what was important then (and often still important now).
I wrote this piece in November 2008.
Capitalists and fans of pointless and unsatisfying consumerism, rejoice! Even in a tanking economy, America’s newest national holiday, Black Friday, brought out the greedy and sometimes violent masses last week, just like the good old (pre-recession) days.
I’m guessing that most of us in the industry weren’t standing in front of our local Wal-Mart on Thanksgiving evening, anxiously awaiting its 5:00 a.m. opening (picture a Soviet bread line made up of looters on a camping trip). No amount of civil irresponsibility is too much to score precious Caitlin a “Baby Alive Learns to Potty” doll.
Caitlin: “Mom, did Santa bring this?”
Role Model Mom: “No, Princess, I beat a woman in a wheelchair senseless and ripped it from her bleeding hands right in front of her kids at the checkouts to save $20 that day after we gave thanks for God’s bounteous riches. Now go away while I watch Desperate Housewives.”
All of that publicly displayed greed has stimulated my latest brainstorm: HIT Black Friday.
I’m picturing a Friday morning line of rental cars filled with hospital IT people sitting in Epic’s frosty driveway, hoping to score a 20 percent break on software license fees (if they’re one of the first five hospitals to sign a contract and if Judy likes them). Turkey-tryptophan groggy CIOs rushing Cerner’s HQ to score a pre-sunrise BOGO deal on Millennium applications. RSNA attendees taking indirect Chicago flights to first get rolled-back pricing on a clinical transformation door-buster special ($200 an hour a twenty-something consultant) from one of the big consulting firms.
Like those consultants, I’m projecting big benefits. Big PR all around. Low vendor costs. Desperate competition since nobody’s selling anything anyway. The chance to upsell (“Say, know what’d go great with that LIS? A matching CPOE application and an extended warranty at 20 percent annual maintenance. Want it wrapped?”)
Print publications would love the revenue from full-page ad inserts. Muckraking blogs like mine would leap at the chance to leak the Black Friday deals. The HIMSS opening session could feature videos of big-name CIOs out-sprinting each other in Friday’s pre-dawn hours at the HIMSS bookstore to get discounts on the latest Marion Ball bestseller or chic HIMSS hoodies for all the homeys in the HIT ‘hood. Nothing creates demand better than the illusion of widespread demand.
In fact, instead of having its virtual conference during the shopping season, HIMSS should stage a Midyear Conference in December that eliminates all the usual boring parts (educational sessions) and focuses entirely on a big-budget, sprawling spectacle of Vegas-like exhibits, self-important attendees jostling to fill their vendor trick-or-treat bags, and the Marrakesh Bazaar-like scent of aroused technology capitalists getting their HIT hunt on during the industry’s annual bacchanalia of commerce (OK, smartass, it is NOT the same as the annual conference – I said December).
Now don’t get all high-horsey on me. HIT is about moving iron. Closing the deal. Getting, not using. To paraphrase that Brillat-Savarin quote shown at the beginning of Iron Chef America, “Tell me what you buy, and I will tell you what you are.”
Like Black Friday, during all the hustle and bustle of enjoying family and reflecting on one’s good fortune and place in the universe, let’s take a moment to remember what’s really important: buying a lot of soon-to-be junk like an ancient Egyptian boy king loading up his tomb with Blu-Ray players and GPSs since an afterlife without them would just plain suck.
So set your alarm for next November 27 at 3:00 a.m. for the first HIT Black Friday. Like the leader of the free world said, it’s your patriotic duty to get out there and go shopping.