Why We Do What We Do: A Ninja Perspective

Nathan Evans Headshot“Ugh, fine.”

That’s not what I dream of a physician saying when I ask if they could spare a few minutes to talk with me about the healthcare IT products they use. But it’s what one provider said to me during one of my first calls at KLAS.

Calling strangers is what I do. I’m what we at KLAS internally call a ninja—a researcher tasked with gathering hard-to-get information. I call hospitals and clinics and ask questions like, “How does Wellsoft EDIS impact your interoperability?” “What’s the best thing about Varian TrueBeam?” and “If it was up to you personally, would you buy Merge PACS again?”

Back to that early call, I tried to start a conversation, to learn how this provider liked the decision support software she was working with, but she only responded with short, disinterested sentences. “It works okay. We’re pretty happy.”

The thing is, I knew these comments would be live on our website within a week and would be read by hundreds of vendors learning how to be better, and hundreds of providers seeking insight on how products perform. I kept probing and asked, “What makes you happy about this product? How could it work better?” These questions may seem inane and annoying, but they’re absolutely crucial.

Would you rather know that “Vizient is pretty good” or that “Vizient doesn’t nickel-and-dime at all; that is what we like about them. We give them a chunk of change that we owe at the beginning of the year, and then we’re done”?

At the end of the call, I said, “I want to make sure I’m giving information and not just taking. The reason we gather this feedback is so other providers can benefit from your knowledge. Is there any research I could share with you to show my appreciation?”

Sarcastically, she responded, “Oh yeah, if there was some way you could show me how the EMR we use compares with its top three competitors, that’d be amazing.” But you obviously can’t, was the implication. I don’t blame her—healthcare providers are busy people who have been conditioned by decades of murky information and no clear, singular source of comparative data.

“I’m looking at that information as we speak,” I answered truthfully. “I’d be happy to share it with you. You can see historical trends, read real users’ comments, and see how different EMRs rank against each other.”

“Oh . . . wait, really?” she said, her voice suddenly approachable and filled with hope. “I would love to see that! That would be amazing! Thank you!”

That’s why I do what I do. I work for KLAS, but I serve hospital administrators, CIOs, ER doctors, and clinical analysts. This may sound like it’s about me, but it’s not. KLAS exists because healthcare providers up and down the spectrum take time out of their busy days to share information with us so we can share it with all of you. KLAS is a tool—an accurate, honest, impartial tool—that providers feed data into every day in a genuine attempt to improve the industry of saving lives.

Part of my job is to call you and ask if you’d be willing to tell me about your experience with a certain IT product, or to ask about your perceptions of a specific industry aspect, or to see if you could refer me to someone who can speak about why your hospital chose one product over another. The other part of my job is to find out what information you need and what research would benefit you the most and to share it with you so YOU can make well-informed decisions.

Above my desk sits a framed copy of the nine KLAS Core Principles. Number six reads, “Help each other be successful and share in the reward.” We do what we do because we—you and I—make each other successful, and because of that, healthcare as a whole gets to share in the reward.

So, thank you. You make us possible.