A staircase made of blocks with five steps

DHIS19: Five Steps to Better Align Providers, Investors, and Vendors

Before DHIS 2019, we had attendees take a survey to look at the problems that each group was trying to solve. For providers, high costs are what matters to them. On the investor and vendor side, poor data management is a top priority. Vendors and investors are also concerned about costs, but the investors’ view is that if we really want to change healthcare, data management needs to work. On the other hand, healthcare providers feel that they will not be around to care about data management if costs cannot be brought under control.
top 5 problems investors are developing a thesis to solve - top 5 problems health systems are trying to solve using healthcare it
Each group is understandably focused on different priorities, which is not a bad thing. The problem is that providers don’t necessarily have the funds to invest for themselves. They need investors to fund the solutions that can help them right now.

Starting with Practical Steps

We have had conversations in the past about practical steps to drive the future of healthcare IT. In previous years, we laid out three practical steps that were really high level. Those suggestions basically demonstrate the need to move out of fee-for-service and into value-based care. I still say that is what needs to happen. The problem is that that transition is not happening. So what do we do in the wake of these conversations?

This year, I wanted to go beyond the three practical steps and dive deeper. We asked respondents, “What practical steps can be taken to better align the investment, vendor, and provider communities?” Here are the top five steps, as outlined in the white paper that respondents highlighted and a few of insights into each category:

  1. Investors Engage Directly with Consumers

    Investors need to understand the providers’ world instead of going through other companies or think tanks. This means understanding why a provider is not buying from the company that investors thought was going to go gangbusters. One way to address this problem is to engage with healthcare providers at both C-suite and user levels. Engagement usually happens only at the C-suite level. For example, a vendor might not have an understanding of how new technology will affect the imaging department.

  2. Establish Strong Road Map and Governance

    In the presymposium survey, we also asked attendees about what barriers stood in the way of success. Investors and vendors said that change management was the biggest reason that they could not see their IT investments through to success within their own organizations or because the providers themselves are just not set up for change.

    It was fascinating that the providers said that one of their biggest gaps was in-house expertise; they do not have the knowledge they need. And investors and vendors are asking these providers to also become strategic thinkers and agents of change in addition to having in-house expertise.

    Among other ideas outlined in the paper, providers can help develop a structure within their organization to facilitate changes. This includes establishing an internal role to manage the IT strategy within a manageable scope of responsibility.

  3. Including Stakeholders in Discussion

    This point goes outside of the internal communication that needs to occur in provider organizations between IT, clinical, finance, administration, and other sides and speaks more to the industry stakeholders as a whole. Respondents commonly mentioned the desire for more KLAS-type conferences because they give people a chance to talk. These events are different from trade shows, in which everyone is there to buy, not necessarily to help each other. There needs to be a forum for discussing the specific goals to accomplish.

  4. Facilitate More Industry Conversations

    There needs to be more copresenting between healthcare providers, investors, and vendors. This way, it is not just an investor giving what feels like a sales pitch or a provider not necessarily speaking to the cool, innovative pieces.

    In a copresenting situation, the provider, who has the patients’ and the organization's interests at heart, can talk about partnering with the investor, who the provider may have mistrusted at first. And together, they talk about how they have created a great solution. That type of presentation might help other people buy into some of the ideas that could be transformative.

    Of course, one of the barriers to having more of these conversations is that people have to do their normal jobs. In this space, it’s also important to facilitate conversations outside of a conference that requires people to fly out.

  5. Create Transparency around Technology Performance
    We need faster measurements of the performance of emerging companies; that is really under KLAS’ expertise. We do not want to wait until a vendor has 50 customers to show that they do not do very well. We want to talk to all 5 of their early customers, show the good data and the bad data, and discuss whether the vendor is worth investing in.

    We also need really clear articulation from vendors about what problems they are trying to solve with technology. Because the providers have that expertise gap, there is a certain amount of reliance on the vendors to educate them about best practices, the industry, and where things are going. So that means those vendors need to have that capability. Sometimes it is the salesperson that's going in and talking about those things. The salesperson might just be fresh out of college, but we are asking him or her to basically be a thought leader or to at least be able to articulate what the thought leaders would share so that we can help everybody understand what we are trying to do.

Rising to the Occasion

Despite the significant problems healthcare IT stakeholders continue to face, the recommendations from the symposium attendees clearly show a willingness to collaborate. I shared some of their ideas here, but I recommend reading the DHIS 2019 White Paper in its entirety for more suggestions on how to continue to align.