Genius in Healthcare IT

How to be a Genius in Healthcare IT

When making a buying decision in the world of healthcare IT, provider leaders typically take one of two steps. They call a few friends who have gone down similar roads and ask what their experiences have been, or they call a few people from the vendor’s list of hand-picked reference sites. If the healthcare leaders are honest with themselves, they already have a good idea of what the people at those sites will say.

What providers sometimes lack is a topographical map, so to speak. What is the lay of the land? Where are the pitfalls and cliffs that providers should avoid? What will an organization’s experience be if it goes with vendor A over vendor B? KLAS hopes to serve as that map. Granted, it is a daunting task to provide insight to organizations staffed with the best and brightest; we hardly feel up to it.

I used to worry when people looked to me as someone with insider knowledge on the HIT industry. I’m lucky in the sense that my work at KLAS has led me into conversations with many of the smartest people in healthcare. Thankfully, I don’t need to be a genius in order to help them achieve their goals—all I need is a set of good ears and solid relationships with our friends in the provider world.

Allow me to relate an illustrative story. Several years back, I was on the phone with a CIO. He and I had just finished rating his current PACS -this was during their move from analog to digital- and I mentioned that KLAS had recently published our first PACS study. This CIO said, “Adam, we’re about to buy from the vendor that KLAS rated very last in the whole study. I think you got it wrong.”

My first thought was, “Uh-oh.” My heart began beating quickly, and I realized, “I have never used any of these PACS solutions. I have no personal, hands-on knowledge of whether the system in question is really good or not!” I told the CIO I would call back in a year and find out how the implementation had gone. I didn’t know what to expect, but was incredibly curious to hear the result. So, a year later, I called this individual back asked his assistant to schedule a call for us. The assistant responded that my CIO friend no longer worked at the organization and had been let go.

At that point, I needed the rest of this story. As I asked around, I learned that the organization had indeed bought from the vendor that KLAS had rated last. It sounded as though the organization had been unable to get the PACS tied into their EMR so that the physicians could see the images and show them to patients. Obviously, that lack of integration became a major roadblock.

I then went back and reviewed our report. It explained that the reason the PACS in question was rated lowest was that other organizations had been similarly unable to tie their EMR and PACS solutions together. That was when it really hit me: I don’t need to be an expert on every one of the solutions KLAS rates. I just need to talk to the providers. They know the systems better than anyone else does. I need to ask them, “What did you buy? Why did you buy it? Did it do what you thought it would?”

Asking the right people those questions allows KLAS to know without knowing—to be geniuses by proxy. It’s in our calls and interviews that we find real data from those who truly understand the systems we rate. If we tried to rely on our own expertise as a company, we would fail dramatically. If, instead, we serve as an accumulation of providers’ voices, then KLAS will remain an effective source of information.