What does it take to get beyond hype in health IT and focus on valuable, actionable, practical, relevant content?

My friend John Lynn was kind enough to cover the new HealthIMPACT Conference that I’m chairing in Houston on April 3 in his recent piece entitled “Getting Beyond the Health IT Cheerleaders, BS, and Hype Machine“. While the article was great, Beth Friedman’s comment was priceless:

What are the criteria to be considered part of the cheerleader squad? This PR agency wants to be sure we are providing valuable, actionable, [practical], relevant content….NOT HYPE! And we’re open to your guidance.

John gave her a great reply:

It’s interesting how in high school you always wanted to be a cheerleader, but in marketing you don’t want to be seen as the cheerleader;-)

I think your description describes what you need to do to avoid hype. You have to focus on what really matters to the customers. Provide value to the customer as opposed to trying to sale your product. A deep understanding of the domain will create a relationship where people trust your views and then can talk about what you’re doing to solve their problems which you understand deeply.

Since Beth posted a great question I wanted to do it justice by answering more specifically. By the way, we’ll be covering a lot similar material at the inaugural Health IT Marketing Conference taking place in Vegas on the 7th and 8th of April. Join us!

Health IT “Cheerleaders” in my mind are those that push technology without considering deep value, return on investment, return on assets, and productivity loss. The hype machine is built around technology when health IT “cheerleaders” focus more on the gadgetry itself rather than the value proposition. If content is built around workflows, workflow optimization, and those tasks within existing or new workflows that optimize patient care through the use of technology then that’s real value.

This morning a college student sent a great question around health IT related productivity loss:

I am currently working on a capstone project for my MBA and my team is required to address a set of challenges as well as opportunities. One of the challenges they seem to be concerned the most [about] is the reduction in productivity of the physicians during and after the implementation of the EHR platform (they are currently working on a paper-base workflow). Since EMR requires doctors to type in the information which eventually takes significantly larger amount of time compared to their traditional method of handwriting, they are asking about ideas what they should do.

I replied that this sounds like a great project – and promptly advised them to conduct an analysis on whether the concern or productivity loss is warranted. I suggested they do a current workflow analysis to figure out their efficiency of existing steps and how those steps would change after an EHR is installed. If such an analysis is not done, evidence-driven technology choices cannot be made.

For a great example of how to build content around clinical workflows, check out HRSA’s guidanceIt’s still surprising to me how many of us in the tech business suggest usage of technology without a deep understanding of workflow. Progress will come, and cheerleading will be reduced, when tech meets workflow in a measurable way.

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