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Readers Write 2/8/12

February 8, 2012 Readers Write 2 Comments

Submit your article of up to 500 words in length, subject to editing for clarity and brevity (please note: I run only original articles that have not appeared on any Web site or in any publication and I can’t use anything that looks like a commercial pitch). I’ll use a phony name for you unless you tell me otherwise. Thanks for sharing!

HIMSS, A Golden Opportunity: Insider Tips for Maximizing Media and Analyst Interviews
By Jodi Amendola

2-8-2012 7-19-05 PM

It’s hard to believe that HIMSS is just around the corner. In addition to meetings with new business prospects and partners, networking, and reunions with friends and former colleagues, you can maximize your HIMSS experience by arranging media and analyst interviews during the show.

HIMSS is a golden opportunity to meet one on one with these key industry influencers and differentiate your company from the competition. You can also leverage these meetings to identify and secure opportunities to be included in print or online articles, blog posts, and industry reports.

These industry movers and shakers are incredibly powerful. One positive mention and your sales leads could skyrocket. One negative comment and the opposite can occur. Don’t panic. The following media training “cheat sheet” can help you achieve your goals and generate positive coverage.

  • Prepare. One of my most embarrassing HIMSS moments was when a client told an analyst that he “really liked his magazine.” The client obviously hadn’t taken the time to read our prep book! Before a meeting, research the background of the editor or analyst and become familiar with his or her areas of expertise and interest. Always customize your answers to address their audiences’ needs and pain points.
  • Listen. Nothing is more annoying than being interrupted. Listen to the entire question being asked and tailor your responses. Address the questions within the context of the target audience(s) and avoid dominating the conversation with a product or service pitch. Sometimes it will be appropriate to share your knowledge, vision, and thoughts on the industry rather than focus on your company.
  • Body language. Be confident, enthusiastic, and friendly. Smile, lean forward, and make direct eye contact. Don’t cross your arms or fidget. Remember, how you deliver your message can be as important as the message itself.
  • Get to the point. Prepare an elevator pitch, a two- to three-sentence description of your company that is easy to understand. In other words, how would you describe your company and its products and services to your mother or the person sitting next to you on an airplane? Make sure it includes the key points you want editors or analysts to remember.
  • Avoid jargon. Explain your product or service in layman’s terms. It’s your responsibility to make the pitch simple, clear, and memorable.
  • Power of three. Focus on three main talking points and weave them into the conversation whenever possible. Often a reporter or analyst will ask if there is anything else that you would like to add at the end of an interview. Use this opportunity to restate your three core messages.
  • Tie to hot topics. Demonstrate that you are a thought leader and can address hot topics such as Meaningful Use, ACOs, and where the industry is heading, not just talk about your product or company. Share the bigger vision.
  • Zen of interviewing. When asked a difficult question, maintain eye contact, control your gestures, and breathe. Listen to the question and request clarification if necessary. Give yourself time to collect your thoughts and then respond. If you don’t know, don’t make it up. Offer to get back to the reporter or analyst with the appropriate information.
  • Tell a story. People remember stories. Talk about client successes and lessons learned that highlight how your products deliver real-world value. If possible, include relevant ROI data in your storytelling.
  • Relationships. Last but not least, it’s all about relationships. Be yourself, be genuine, and have fun. Let editors and analysts know that you can address multiple topics and to feel free to call on you for commentary or to discuss industry trends. Offer your clients as sources for future articles. Remember, these editors and analysts can have an incredible impact on your company’s reputation and marketplace visibility. Take the time to establish and strengthen these important relationships. Your investors, board members, and employees will be glad that you did.

Jodi Amendola is CEO of Amendola Communications of Scottsdale, AZ.

Comparing CEOS – Steve Jobs and Neal Patterson
By Reflective

Interesting comparison of Neal Patterson to Steve Jobs you made. 

Neal is, like most true visionaries, a complex person. I worked directly with him for many years, and while he can be quite the PIA to put up with at times, he is also incredibly compassionate and human and generous at others. He is a great leader, but not always a great manager  – and those are two entirely different things. He would agree with this assessment and has said as much in the book he wrote – manageIT.

As a leader, he sets clear direction to where he wants the company to go and the role he wants you to play in getting there. He defines aggressive and tangible goals that can be measured – and measure them he does. But he can be an impatient manager who doesn’t like to listen to reasons why goals aren’t accomplished (he views them as excuses). He is incredibly picky about the words you select in presenting your arguments. Words are VERY important to him, nearly as important as your intent. If you use the wrong words, he will come at you ruthlessly until you are embarrassed into retreat – many times, in a public forum. 

This is not an easy thing to deal with, and some might view it as unfair. But he does get his point across, and you surely do choose your words carefully the next time. And he has a great radar for detecting bullshit, so I would advising against trying. For your area of responsibility, you better figure out how to be more prepared than him, more informed than him, and have spent more time on the strategy than him – or you will not survive.

I have worked with several truly brilliant folks over the course of my career, and none of them have been easy. The things that they see aren’t always easy for the rest of us to see. The drive that they have to achieve comes from an inner place that we may not ever understand. They are different. They are difficult to be around because they are constantly judging and evaluating everything and everyone – making split-second decisions that can change the course of people’s careers and lives. 

The decisions aren’t always fair or even right , but they aren’t afraid to make them and live with the consequences. And once made, they do not live in the past. They only move forward. Leaders have it in their DNA to do this. Many managers do not.

But I have also observed that these truly visionary, genius-type folks are also acutely aware of their own mortality. They feel that they have a lot to accomplish in the short time they are on the planet. They are afraid they will run out of time to accomplish all they want to accomplish. They hear the clock ticking and they tend to steamroller over others that they feel will impede their progress, not always choosing a path that may yield less collateral damage. 

They are not always fair, and they sometimes listen to the wrong advice and situation summaries from folks with hidden agendas  because they don’t have the time to do everything themselves. Because they are forced to delegate, they can sometimes be manipulated. They may be brilliant visionaries, but they are not always the best judge of people. 

But leaders like these accomplish things that the rest of us cannot. They probably don’t like being labeled "genius" because they just see it as working harder than others. Being more driven than others. They have tenacity and a refusal to accept failure. I don’t think that they are necessarily put here to become beloved. I don’t think that is what’s important to them. What’s important to them is achieving their goals. Making a difference, leaving their mark, changing the world. The accolades, awards, and adoration are not what drive them, no matter how big their egos might be.

They can be incredibly charismatic when they want to be. They are successful leaders because, inevitably, their followers believe in the direction they are headed. They are leading their team into battle, and the team goes – because they believe their fight is right and just and winnable.

You don’t always love being around these types of folks. They are not easy. They wear you out. But it is their difference from the average that makes them successful. We need them. And most of us are changed by being around them. We are challenged to be better than we had been. We are less average by working up to their standards. For as long as we can stand it.

Too Much Football Without a Helmet
By Mike McGuire

2-8-2012 7-33-04 PM

I’ve managed to spend the lion’s share of my career in healthcare informatics. I’m not sure if that says I’m brain damaged or that I really admire not only the industry, but also the dedicated people I’ve met over the last 30 years.

I’m choosing to believe it’s the people, even though my bride believes anyone working in healthcare is brain damaged. Her view was formed by her experiences caring for her mother when it was discovered that she had cancer. We’re all too familiar with the story. Patient has multiple providers that are treating her, each focused on their part of the care. Between the drug interactions and multiple protocols, she managed to survive almost four years before she passed. While we were grateful for the time, the quality of those years will always haunt us.

Each of us have gone through a similar scenario or have known someone that has gone through it. Some of us have been around long enough to have survived the ‘80s and the introduction of clinical information systems. In the ‘90s. electronic medical records were introduced, and in the ‘2000s we had RHIOS, then CHINs and now HIEs and ACOs with still no solution in sight.

This weekend, like millions of Americans, I watched the Super Bowl. I marveled at the athleticism of the players, the size of the spectacle, and the precision of the execution of the game. When you think about how these are games scripted beforehand and how the coaches anticipate what the other team will do under certain circumstances, you wonder how they make all those pieces come together? And when they put together the plan, how do they modify it when a new piece of data or a new formation suddenly appears?

Like any battle plan, it’s only good until the first shot is fired, and then it’s constant adjustment. What I saw was that the quarterbacks of those teams had the ability to approach the line of scrimmage, access what they saw, and then had the wherewithal to call an audible. An audible is a new or substitute play called by the quarterback or a defensive formation called by a linebacker at the line of scrimmage as an adjustment to the opposing side’s formation. The audible is communicated by a series of hand signals, numbers, or colors called out by whoever is changing the formation. The players at each position then adjust their attack accordingly.

It’s a tribute to man’s ingenuity that the game of football has figured out a way to seamlessly react to change and adapt, yet we in healthcare can’t even exchange or share basic data. Now I hear the healthcare purists shuddering that the mere thought that I had the audacity to imply that somehow the exchange of patient data is analogous and on the same level as an audible in football. No. My point is that the NFL has figured out that in order to consistently win, you have to continually adjust and be able to communicate those adjustments in real time. This is something we cannot easily do in our healthcare environment.

Our healthcare game plan needs to be built around our two quarterbacks, the patient and the provider. Sustainability can only occur when the 880,000 physician quarterbacks can audible the other members on the patients care team, including the patient. Data exchange must be real time, succinct, and cheap. What we’re building is slow, difficult to maneuver in, and expensive.

Unless we design the game plan around the quarterbacks, my grandchildren will be writing articles about why ACOs and HIEs never delivered the expected results. We are better than this.

Mike McGuire is senior VP of sales for Holon Solutions of Roswell, GA.

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Currently there are "2 comments" on this Article:

  1. The article by Reflective was interesting. It made me question whether the people I lead when directing implementations wouldn’t classify me in some of the same ways. Its difficult when you have a burning passion and your brain makes connections nobody else does to understand why others fail to find the same zeal and passion for a project or get lost unable to make decisions that appear clear cut. Sometimes its powerful to see an outsiders perspective and improve yourself.

    Mike I started out disagreeing with your end assessment of your analogy but upon reflection I realized its my own perspective of centering deliverables around a CIOs plays that made me automatically perceive it as being an IT/Provider exchange of data, although it does need to be a three way communication in this case if we want to get to the point that we can have IT automatically provide what doctors/patients want.

  2. Good advice Jodi. The first one I think is the most important. Understanding who the person you’re talking to is and what they do really matters. It’s amazing how little people know. Although, I’m also ok with someone who says I didn’t know about you, but I’m going to check you out. Of course, if you say that, then it helps to actually check my stuff out. Doesn’t hurt to leave a comment or subscribe to my site. This matters and can be really effective.

    You do have me wonder what’s written by the PR people in their “prep book.” I say that because many of the PR people who engage with me don’t know me or what I do that well either.

    The story is also a great suggestion. Stories are memorable and often easily translate into a story about that company.

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