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HIStalk 911: LingoLogix

April 21, 2008 News 2 Comments


25 Highland Park Village #100 509
Dallas, TX 75205

GoCode computer assisted coding for ambulatory encounter notes.

The Elevator Pitch (provided by the company)
"Improved compliance, revenue, and speed to billing – automatically for ambulatory patient encounter notes, with our Natural Language Processing (NLP) solution, GoCode from LingoLogix.  Physicians do their documentation while GoCode works in the background, without requiring providers to change the way they work.  New intelligence, reporting, knowledge extraction from narrative, free-text digital medical content.  We can work with an EMR or without one, real-time or batch mode, ASP or behind the firewall – no problem. And, the Chief Compliance Officer will be impressed with our consistent coding accuracy that has been demonstrated against audit to exceed 90% accuracy in automatic E&M, ICD9, and CPT coding extraction."

First Impressions
We went right to the the company’s web site, of course. It’s very serious and low key. Can we figure out what the company does and why customers and prospects should care? Let’s jump in.

The good news about all the smarmy criticism that follows: we think GoCode is pretty cool, at least judging from our CIO-level, first-pass review. It passes the first-sniff test. The customer we talked to raves about its ability to bill fairly and consistently (which usually means increased revenue) for its target customer, large organizations that do outpatient billing. Compliance is important, but nobody likes buying compliance solutions, so let’s go with Get the revenue you’re entitled to through accurate, defensible billing advertising approach. Is that the message being sent? Let’s take a look.


The most important web real estate (top left of the home page) has some stock art and a tagline, "The Science of Specialized Languages." That’s not much of a come-on, at least until the company gets huge and has offerings in many industries. It’s true, it’s bold, and it’s broad, but it’s not the best use of the 30 seconds of a casual reader’s attention that you’re apt to get. Redesign the front page with a clearer call to action and a single, constantly repeated message.

We’re serious about the 30 seconds rule. It’s like a date – the evening’s outcome is usually decided in that same 30 seconds. Spend more time creating a shorter message. 

Under The Company, it says, "“LingoLogix was formed in 2002 for the purpose of taking core technology developed at The Mayo Clinic to market.” Nobody’s going to buy just because Mayo wanted to make money. Isn’t your purpose to assure doctors they are coding accurately for maximize reimbursement? Prospects like customers whose very specific mission aligns with theirs. Name-dropping Mayo is fine, but not here. Would you go to a doctor who says, "I went into medicine because I wanted to drive a Porsche?"

Neither is the unremarkable history of the company and the year-old press releases in the News section of the front page. What are you selling? Am I a prospect? Has nothing happened in the year since the last press release went out? What do you want me to do next?

We would write sexier press releases. The news isn’t that the customer signed the agreement to use the product, but that they state that it’s "more accurate than human coders." This is a great story badly told. Don’t be afraid to market yourself – tune the message, focus on what’s newsworthy, and give the press ideas for stories that will generate free PR. 99% of press releases are terribly written, guaranteeing that no reporter in their right mind will do anything except move on quickly.

Since we’re lost at this point, we’ll click on Products. That’s a misnomer – there’s only one (and there’s nothing wrong with that – it shows focus). If I do enough clicking, I can find more specific information. The downloadable brochure is good, but it’s hidden away and is in the PDF form that clickers often avoid. It also doesn’t match what’s on the site – it’s better in identifying benefits, though it stops short of saying it helps you get your money. The testimonials are good and should be on the main site.

It’s better to repeat one focused message than to spray out several of them. Tell me (again) what problem I have and how you’ll solve it. Give me a bullet list of key features (reduces the need for coding specialists, works with free-text dictation without templates, etc.)

There’s a link for Demos. Oops – it’s just a signup form, free of the immediate gratification I’m seeking. Few people will do that. I’m doing you a favor looking for information – why stick a salesperson in between me and what I want to see? Is it top secret? Why can’t I just look at a video or PowerPoint on my own? The product section actually has a link in microscopic letters that links to a screen shot, but there needs to be more of that and it should be easier to find.

Surely something here is innovative (what was that "science of specialized languages" bit?) so where are the white papers, testimonials, architecture descriptions, etc.?

There’s no mention of a sales and marketing executive or of any strategic partners who will resell the product. Prospects might not care, but investors might, so we would talk a little about the distribution channel.

If you redesign the web site, go Web 2.0 and hire a pro. Simplify the message. Make it appealing. Strip away everything that doesn’t add value. Put your best foot forward in 30 seconds or less.

Identify the Problem, The Audience, and Their Fears
The first question we ask a company that’s looking for marketing help: who’s your target decision-maker? What pushes their button? How do you find them and get your message in front of them?

It’s not clear from the LingoLogix site, but its customer tells us the company has three influencers to reach: the CIO, the outpatient manager, and the compliance officer. Since their agendas are wildly dissimilar, why not provide each with a link to click and then hit them with a targeted message? One size does not fit all.

We would say that CFOs and COOs (hospital or large practice) would be the best contacts. They own revenue and compliance issues and have authority to buy a solution. They think big picture. Regardless of title, find out who owns revenue and compliance issues – and that’s not likely to be the CIO, whose only role is probably to veto if the technology is risky.

And like most hospitals, the first question is "who else is using it?" Your customer sites are excellent.

We like the OIG/compliance pitch, but until a provider is busted, how do they know they have a problem? Nobody buys compliance solutions proactively, at least not since HIPAA was found to be a toothless tiger. And in our experience, compliance officers don’t have a lot of clout when it comes to changing systems or workflow. It’s the secondary message to improving billing accuracy, especially since most organizations underbill, according to your customer. Focus on the incremental revenue opportunity, but use compliance as the nobler way to get that message across without making the prospect feel greedy.

Here’s what we’d want to see: some kind of checklist or online worksheet that tells me if I have the problem you’re solving. People buy solutions. That implies problems. How do I know I have one?

Say what you’re selling me – often. A computer product? Peace of mind? Enhanced revenue? Pick an honest yet sexy marketing message and sprinkle it liberally everywhere.

This is the area we’d focus on first since it spans all aspects of marketing the product, not just the web site.

Management Credentials
A small company’s executive team and board attract three audiences: customers, partners, and investors. LingoLogix has a strong team when it comes to investors, but not so strong for customers and partners.

We’d like to see more operational healthcare experience represented. If you’re selling solutions for billing and compliance, get people with impressive experience in those areas. General business experience in leadership gives the perception that a company is a technology vendor rather than a solution provider, which the company clearly isn’t – it has real-life, deep domain offerings. We’d make that statement more strongly, perhaps with a strong advisory board of provider-siders. Get people who are similar to your target prospects.

It’s a well-credentialed team. Get some heavy healthcare experience as an advisory board and it would be much stronger. Or, have a third party "expert" from a well-known consulting company review the product and provide a quote about how great it is (assuming they think it is).

Focus on Results
We see a lot about what the product does, but not enough about what benefits the customer enjoys from its use (and from its customer, there are many). The customer says the ROI is impressive, so tell me about it (or better yet, give me tools to predict it at my place). Show me the workflow before and after. Let me feel what it would be like running it.

ROI is important when it comes to passing that first hurdle. Put it in the prospect’s face.

Business Benefit is Strategic
No problems here. Customers don’t often buy solutions that don’t align with strategy. Who wouldn’t want revenue enhancement and compliance assurance? Companies often miss that point – even a great product won’t get a second glance if it doesn’t solve a strategic problem. This one’s a natural.

Innovation – Why Are You Better?
We recommend more information here. We don’t know who the competitors are or what our strategic alternatives might be. Tell us! You don’t need to be innovative from a technology standpoint (people buy solutions, not gadgets), but give the CIO something to grab onto – architectural diagrams, interfacing information, hosted vs. locally installed, etc.

And if the rules-driven NLP is more sophisticated than the usual text decomposition (which the customer says it is), then tell the CIO. Just don’t expect the rest of the customer’s people to care. They want results.

Do you have any services, support, updates, etc.? Do clients like it?

From what the customer tells us, GoCode is damned impressive at consistently and accurately creating accurate charges from documentation, easily measured and monitored by running it against "gold standard" documents of known quality. That might the most compelling sales point available. Remember Kasparov vs. IBM’s Deep Blue chess matches? Even people who didn’t follow chess got interested in the man vs. machine angle. Pit expert coders against GoCode and publicize the results (no matter who wins). The PR possibilities are endless and the resulting message is razor sharp.

Or, hitting the compliance angle, get statements from neutral third parties on the value of having an unbiased, consistent billing tool vs. humans. The customer has done that. Or, offer an accuracy guarantee or to appear with the customer if billing is called into question.

While doctors aren’t heavily involved in the decision, the customer tells us there’s a strong argument for them. Billing more procedures accurately means higher numbers,which may mean bigger bonuses with no extra work whatsoever. Physicians could help seal the deal.

We wouldn’t talk yet about the tool’s obvious potential to build or mine data warehouses. That would just confuse customers. Stick with the single message.

LingoLogix has a happy prestigious customer, an apparently highly functional product that delivers big strategic benefit, and some smart technology people. Like many or most small companies, they’re still working on their message and positioning.

We like the company’s chances of success. Few have the big-name reference sites that LingoLogix has, plus the strong possibility of some huge deals upcoming. Bring on some sales and marketing expertise after the next big sale, we say, and go looking for investor money if you need it. And be ready to build a strong support organization for a wider user base.

We’re most encouraged that LingoLogix opened themselves up for our critique. We said we wouldn’t mince words (we said it would be like Kitchen Nightmares, where Gordon Ramsay rips into a restaurant to help make it better). We’re confident that the average decision-maker would have similar reactions to ours, although they wouldn’t make recommendations for improvement – they would just move on if they didn’t get the picture quickly.

Now It’s Your Turn …
We said upfront that we would give LingoLogix the chance to respond to our observations and recommendations. Secondly, and arguably most importantly, we offered the expert opinions of HIStalk’s readers. We gave our thoughts for free and invite you to do the same.

Do you agree or disagree with what we said? What advice would you give LingoLogix? What else should they know about their market? What partnerships should they seek?

Add your comments below. I guarantee that a lot of people, including everyone at LingoLogix, will be hanging on your every word.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. Your insights into the LingoLogix website presentation are apt. But…cut these folks some slack, will you?:) It looks like a fantastic promise they’re holding out, despite their elevator pitch. The bottomline is: does it work well and is it really viable solution?

  2. Practice managers are looking for anything that will make their physicians more productive. More patient encounters per day–that’s what counts. I have seen LingoLogix’s GoCode in practice with real physicians, and amazingly, it really does what it claims. It saves physicians time and gets the physician notes right—no gaming the system, just right.

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