Enterprise Imaging

How Prescriptive Selling Should Be Applied to Enterprise Imaging

Here’s a question for you: who is responsible for a provider organization’s IT purchasing decisions? The answer is both complex and critical, especially in the developing world of Enterprise Imaging (EI).

Earlier this year, I spoke with a provider friend who has attended a few of our events. He told me he was hung up on a comment from KLAS’ Enterprise I Summit last year. A vendor executive had claimed that the many differences between provider organizations prevent vendors from compiling standard enterprise imaging offerings. According to this executive, vendors need providers to tell them what to do and can’t be held responsible for directing provider customers. 

My provider friend asked, “Does that really make sense?” To his credit, I believe vendors need to take at least some responsibility in directing their customers. Typically, a provider organization will only have worked on one EI implementation: their own. 

Vendors, however, have the insight that comes from working with a variety of customers trying to tackle the same problem. This makes vendors uniquely qualified to guide providers towards best practices and success. They’re also positioned to know whether they can deliver on what potential buyers need.

KLAS’ research on customer satisfaction makes it clear: providers are happiest when their vendors sell prescriptively; that means they take a guiding role in the sales process. This truth can be applied even in the shifting EI market to help providers—and therefore their vendors—find success.

Define Enterprise Imaging

If I were to ask a group of five providers what EI means, I might get eight different answers. The imaging industry hasn’t yet solidified a definition, and that means many EI offerings vary wildly from each other. This frustrates providers, who often don’t have the time to pioneer or experiment. Instead, they just want best practices to implement.

To avoid frustration when a provider organization comes looking for help, vendors should take the time to ask a few questions, such as “What technology are you looking for?” and “How do you want to use it?” Questions like these will help providers and vendors identify whether a partnership makes sense.

If the parties’ definitions of EI don’t match up, the vendor should be willing to walk away. “Throwing away a sale” may sound counterintuitive, but customers really want a vendor that can serve them, not just sell to them. In the long run, seeking out and serving customers that fit within a vendor’s area of expertise helps everyone involved.

Seek and Share Plans Up Front

Far too many provider organizations go years into imaging contracts without sharing their EI goals with their vendor. Some organizations haven’t even solidified their goals internally before signing on the dotted line. This approach feels a bit like building a house without a blueprint; you may get four walls and a roof, but don’t be too surprised if the garage door opens directly into the master bedroom.

Ideally, vendors would ask to hear the provider organization’s imaging plans and share their own EI road map before a contract is signed. At that point, the vendor can share a list of their tools and services that the customer will need in order to reach their goals.

Vendors should strongly encourage providers not to negotiate out the necessary tools from the lineup in order to save money. Agreements between customers and vendors should include a clear vision of their collective EI plan.

Plan for Specialties

Provider organizations’ EI plans generally include goals to expand EI functionality to their specialty areas, and vendors should be heavily involved in that process. EI is new enough that many vendors have little experience implementing EI tools in specialty areas; gaining that experience should be vendors’ first priority. After helping with several specialty implementations, a good vendor would work to identify lessons learned and pass that knowledge on to new provider customers.

In a perfect world, the build process wouldn’t begin until the vendor knew exactly what the provider wanted. This may require a conversation with the provider organization’s EHR vendor. The EI vendor can then walk the provider organization through the build and implementation processes, making sure that both fit the providers’ goals. Providers greatly value such guidance. In fact, my provider friend feels that guidance is so important that it should be a standard part of every EI package.

Both vendors and providers working in the EI space have a winding path to navigate. KLAS has planned our upcoming 2018 Enterprise Imaging Summit with the hope of bringing the best provider and vendor minds together to discuss this path and nail down expectations. I’m confident that these EI experts will be able to agree on at least one truth: provider and vendor organizations need each other to find success.