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June 17, 2015 Readers Write 2 Comments

How to Sell to MD Anderson
By Niko Skievaski


Last Wednesday, I had the pleasure of attending MD Anderson’s IS Vendor Summit in Houston. Imagine a room of 200 enterprise sales executives at the edge of their seats listening to how MD Anderson’s transition to Epic may or may not affect their prospects with the world’s largest cancer center. The usual conversations were accented by beads of sweat organizing in military formation on the tips of noses, bayonets at the ready.

CIO Chris Belmont and his team transparently outlined how they plan to transform the patient care experience. Their vision includes the concept of bringing the patient’s overall experience up to par with the world-class care that patients expect. This is along the lines of Branson’s "Virgin Way," in that the service experience begins when a customer starts thinking about your product and not simple when interacting with it.

From the cancer center’s perspective, this experience starts when a patient is diagnosed and gets home to Google for the best place to get treatment. It continues through each encounter at the hospital, including driving directions, parking, way-finding, and waiting rooms. After the treatment (which is the actual product), the experience needs to go home with the patient as they transition to becoming a survivor.

The good news for us: this will take a lot of technology and most of it falls far outside the functionality provided by the EHR. Jeff Frey leads up the Digital Experience and has taken on the role of the true cowboy at the organization. When the room was asked, "Who in here hasn’t worked with Jeff?" we fell silent, either because we all had or we were too ashamed to admit we hadn’t. Needless to say, Jeff and his team need to wrangle what will be hundreds software vendors into a coherent digital strategy to present a seamless experience for patients. (FYI – iPads seem to be the chosen hardware.)

This requires collaboration. That brings me to the key points of selling to MD Anderson, as I understand it. Here it is, summarized, enhanced, and optimized for effectiveness.

How to Sell to MD Anderson

Stop pitching us on how your product will save healthcare. Pitch on how your product will fit into our goals for the digital patient experience. You won’t be able to do it alone. You need to collaborate with other vendors, so talk to each other. You may be competitors on the trade show floor, but in here, you’re part of our vision. Work together and solve these problems. Don’t make us stitch it all together. Don’t give us yet another analytics dashboard — we won’t use it. Give us an API and integration plan. Your chances of landing a meeting dramatically increase with the number of vendor-collaborators you bring with you.

Anyone want to collaborate?

Niko Skievaski is  co-founder of Redox.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Nice piece Niko!

    For many smaller vendors there is this fear that a new EHR will compromise their position with the provider. I dare say this is a fear shared with larger vendors.

    Your point about technologies outside of the EHR is well expressed, and I have shared your piece with others I know are not regular readers. Hopefully they will come to understand that there is room for many at the table…hopefully our customers will come to understand that as well. (I think some believe they are purchasing a panacea)

  2. Kudos Niko, you nailed it with your description of what many of us CIOs are looking for. Our patients are being cared for under some kind of collaborative payment model, so our systems must be collaborative as well. Collaborative systems in our diverse care settings are exactly what we need along with the skills and expertise from the vendors to support the interoperability. We are indeed scrutinizing our vendor prospects and how easy is it to get our hands on data or integrate a file into their product. It is one of the first criteria we now consider in evaluating a vendor. No one is saying its easy, but if your products need more plug and play with secure APIs and we don’t have time for you to grow into this brave new world of interoperability.

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