Pay as you go Health IT

According to this article, Health IT projects require hefty investments.   I'm going to have to disagree with Dr. Caitlin Cusack.   Maybe current Health IT projects do, but that doesn't mean they have to.   Your two cost factors are the actual hardware / software you use and the cost of training your people.

I believe that the customers should invest nothing for the software.   Just like you can get "pay as you go" mobile phones, Health IT should be delivered as "pay as you go".   How?

Build it in the cloud and scale horizontally.  It's not hard or expensive to build a system for a 3,000 patient clinic.  But instead of designing a massive silo (aks, for 10,000 customers, deploy 10,000 cloud servers.    And then just charge when the customer actually uses the thing.  Which will keep you on your toes at all times.

As for hardware, it doesn't take much.   A great netbook or desktop costs $300-$400 and you can set up secure wireless for $100 per building.   So you can automate a 5 physician office with a total investment of $5-$10K.  Because all the heavy lifting is done in the cloud (aka Amazon Web services, my favorite).  And you can run a dedicated server 24/7 with a lot of storage for less than $1,000 a year with zero installation costs.

And deployment (where the real costs are) should be done in an iterative fashion.  Prototype, pilot, repeat until satisfied.  Then expand.

This is a different way of looking at things.  When I was at Baxter Healthcare, conventional wisdom said all IT projects were heavily invested in, took many months (or over a year) to get implemented and then get everyone trained.  Working in the divisions I was rolling out new applications in 6 weeks.   And that was 25 years ago.

Prototype, pilot, repeat.

Keeping up with everything: Bloglines & Evernote

I know you're not supposed to blog over the weekend, but since when did I ever do "status quo"?   I've watched Microsoft's "bing" commercials, even tried it, but I prefer other ways to keep up with the world and find things.  The first product I like is Bloglines.   Sites / people who usually say and do interesting things I subcribe (just 2 clicks).  Today I purged the list back to 25 feeds.   After not caring about some for over a month, hit the delete key.

Back in the dark ages when people actually read trade magazines, I had a file drawer full of interesting items.   I would just tear a page out of the magazine and stuff it into a folder.  Purged it about once a year or so.   Today I have Evernote do the job for me.  I have only a couple of folders, but it sure is handy for remembering, and it beats bookmarking everything.

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act - Health Information Technology

Physicians want to do right by their patients, but they can't always.  Aa Why?  Because they're driven by reimbursements.   Electronic Health Records have been talked about as a small step in this direction, but not a whole lot has been done about it.  So have best practices for treatment.   

Everyone thinks it's a good idea, but no one has put money (think reimbursements) behind it.  But it appears this is going to change.   The last administration put in a $20M budget for HIT.   This administration put in a $20B budget.   This should be interesting.

Which goes to the heart of marketing to a particular group.  You need to really understand what drives them.  And if an obstacle is in the way of what they want to do, remove it and you'll have a new friend.  And new business.

Inbound Marketing: Understanding the Future

Seth Godin wrote an interesting post on lessons learned from not understanding the next big thing:

the rules of this new business didn't match the rules of my existing business.

The problem we have is not having the benefit of thinking about the future and  discussing it with people of a like mind.    Take the time.   

But remember, new opportunities means new rules.  In my case I figured out two major trends before they occurred:

  • emergence of computer appliances
  • cloud computing

And also figured out the general shape of the new rules.  But timing is always an issue.   And that's the difficult part.  So you need to have a couple of different plans depending upon how quickly the market accepts the new change.

I've had years of training figuring out the new rules.  I read science fiction (not fantasy) in which a new fact is introduced and a new society is developed.  Want a little practice.  Try watching this.

Staging Your Product: Best Buy Shows How Not To Do It

We all could take a lesson from the people who stage homes for sale.  This is the practice of setting up a house using furniture and accessories so potential buyers actually can see themselves living in the house.   How often do we try to sell our empty "houses" / products by talking about the square feet or the school district instead of helping a potential customer visualize themselves living with our products?

Apple has done a great job positioning all their products as part of a lifestyle for the customer.   You really have to go below the fold on the web page to get any speeds and feeds.   This even goes to the Apple stores.   As Computerworld says:

Baker attributed Apple's success to a number of factors, but he said that its retail stores -- and the way it crafts consumers' complete "buying experience" -- was the most important. "The market sometimes discounts this, but Apple's stores are key to what they do," he said. "[Hewlett-Packard Co.] is looking to replicate some of this, but even that shows how difficult it is to use third-party retail without managing the entire experience."

Aa_2 Having been to the Apple section at Best Buy and Comp USA (r.i.p.), I much prefer going to the Apple store.  Best Buy puts the Apple section next to the car stereo area where all you hear is "thump, thump, thump".  It's like starting a fine open air restaurant next to the expressway and wondering why no one shows up.

For those of you who like to measure things, Apple went from 9% market share to 14% market share in one year.   Are you showing empty houses or managing the entire experience?

The Eisenhower Effect

A friend and I were chatting today about how carriers still think of themselves are controlling pipes to deliver content.   It just struck me that the carriers are acting a lot like the railroads did when the Interstate System was being built.   They clamped down on their monopoly seeing the Interstate being a threat, instead of embracing the possibilities to expand on their base.

Aa What the Interstate System did was expand the range of the individual to give freedom to go places on a whim.   So does the Internet.    As the pipes become commodities and freely available it will be interesting to see how many carriers die.   It's already starting.  For $99 Sprint is offering unlimited data and voice no matter where you may be. 

So to survive we must embrace and adapt.   Look at the new opportunities and get into those.  Imagine the implications of Distributed Cloud Computing.  If the carriers move on, they will create whole new opportunities, if not, they'll become quaint artifacts like riding the Orient Express.

Mass Customization

Aa I am not a demographic.  I am a person.  And your customers really notice when you take time to notice them as an individual.   Yet as Mary points out, too often we go for the cookie cutter approach.

Remember back in school where everyone had the same notebook on Day 1?  But by day 3 all the notebooks were different.    So do the same for your marketing.   I was talking to a large print shop and they have the ability to print unique catalogs for each customer, even on runs of over 100,000.   Amazon customizes your page the same way.

So make sure your web site is unique, and make sure your collateral is customized just for the people you are talking too.

But, you say, we sell to everyone!   I hear that and I know your sales are flat because you are not relating to anyone in particular.   And that's an easy problem to correct.

Prototype to Break Through Ignorance

This article in Business Week caught my attention which said:

Being too close to—or distant from—a situation can thwart innovation.
...You walk into a meeting with a great idea. You're full of anticipation for the excitement it's going to cause, only to be met by the comment: "That's just like 'X'—it's been done before." The idea is dismissed and you leave, perplexed and deflated.

What Sound familiar?  Especially to those presenting to senior management or to a Venture Capital firm.  Because you are very familiar with a particular market, you see things most people don't. 

But how to get them to understand?   I like to accent the key "aha" factor by building a prototype.  The best is one that actually works in some manner.   For instance when my team came up with the "appliance" computing concept in the early 90's,  we actually built a working computer on a piece of plywood.  We got the funding.   If you cannot do that, then at least build slideware.  Maybe, just maybe they'll get it.