An API Integration Executive’s Perspective on EHR Quantitative Performance Metrics and Helping New Entrants Stand Out
For small physician practices and major medical providers alike, first time EHR implementations or system upgrades can be daunting.
On the flip side, less established firms face the daunting marketing challenge of standing out in a crowded field. Appealing to different stakeholders with often different needs and competing priorities only adds to the confusion.
One thing we do know. Doctors and CIOs alike are data-focused when evaluating performance. They have little patience for marketing speak that fails to answer specific concerns related to reliability, standards and interoperability, customized tradeoffs, usability, and usefulness.
In a JAMIA article examining EHR Implementation, its authors wrote:
The initial question that must be asked is whether the vendor specifications meet the needs of the institution as defined by the EHR system chosen. Is the throughput time acceptable? Does the system operate as intended, assuming that the vendor promises and the client expectations are synchronized?…For a solid formative evaluation of the EHR system implementation, specific metrics need to be chosen and success criteria defined to determine whether or not the system is meeting expectations.
At the same time, qualitative considerations including workflow, maintenance, and extendibility and of course price impact EHR purchase decisions.
So ultimately what are the key performance drivers in marketing our value proposition?
That’s why I was interested in getting Devin Soelberg’s perspective on quantitative metrics and how EHR performance claims are evaluated by prospective customers.
He’s Chief Customer Officer of Redox. (see a previous post – Selling EHR Solutions: Drawing the Line on Customization) As makers of APIs to create interoperability between healthcare organizations and developers, he sees first hand what moves decision makers for EHR systems.
While EHR quantitative performance metrics are important, Devin doesn’t see them as the key driver in closing sales, especially when most players are hitting similar benchmarks. Here are some of his insights into how new entrants can position themselves to stand out in the EHR space.
Marketing Advice for Smaller EHR Entrants
Quantitative EHR Metrics: Not the Key Point of Differentiation
Devin: When it comes to such metrics like latency and data storage, you need to meet industry standards, but it’s not enough of a differentiator.
There is so much similarity across vendors because the bar of what’s good enough is so high right now. It’s really difficult to distinguish yourself on a quantitative level because so many groups have hit that level of an acceptable quantifiable threshold.
As long as you are fast enough to keep up with the clinical workload, then most clinical practices in my experience are happy. You don’t really get extra points for being three times faster than you need to be but you will be penalized a ton if you are at all below where you need to be.
Instead you really have to start digging into the qualitative piece.
How To Stand Out: Consider a Niche Market
Devin: It’s very rare for a generalist EHR to enter a crowded EHR landscape and compete on anything other than price — which is a slippery slope.
There are plenty of generalists out there; focus on a particular speciality and define what you do really well in a targeted way. It helps you focus on whom you should be talking to and allows you to get to market faster.
I have worked with many niche speciality based EHRs. My observation is that a specific EHR really does make their niche users happier than the generalist. It’s not just a perception. If I am oncologist I generally prefer to use an oncology specific system rather than a general system and so on.
Importance of Extendibility
Devin: In my opinion, if I were selecting an EHR platform, extendibility would be one of the top criteria. I would look at usability on the clinical side; I would look at basic criteria on the technical side, and I would spend a significant part of my selection discussion talking about how extendible is the platform that I am buying.
If I am dropping hundreds of thousands of dollars or millions, I want to be able to extend and push the envelope without feeling hamstrung. When you talk to physicians they talk about feeling constrained and restricted by their platform.
Avoid a One Size Fits All Offering
Devin: I think a lot of times business development reps with EHR vendors or marketers in general have their punch list of features. They try to be accommodating but it’s really not a one size fits all offering.
From a marketing perspective, I think it’s very easy to look at the enterprise solution you have and assess an overall value and then try to leverage or negotiate the value. In reality practices have different priorities, and you can learn a lot by digging into their needs.
There is no secret sauce. Know your clients better than they know themselves and customize the offering that caters to what they are going to need.
If you are selling to a high-volume outpatient practice, then registration, check in, and copay collection are of higher value. Alternatively, if you are selling to an oncology clinic, you are going to see fewer patients but have a much higher acuity and need much more specialty documentation on the clinical side.
Devin: Reference Site: Have a reference site that can put into context the good and the bad. It’s super helpful and what I look for when selecting a vendor.
Tone: Use informative and persuasive content at different points in the sales cycle. Each is important, but recognize it’s hard for a marketing piece that’s both informative and persuasive.
When meeting with a selection committee – regardless of your size – address the ease and expense of onboarding a full time technology. Walk me through the integration process — how much does it cost, how much time will it take, will your team or my team need to do it, how independent can I be?