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3 Ways We Overcome Friction in a Slow-Moving Industry

 

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Healthcare professionals devote their lives to a noble cause: supporting the well-being of others. However, their efforts are often stymied by ancient technology.

Getting innovative tools into these professionals’ hands requires an understanding of the primary friction points in the adoption process and the best tactics for addressing them. At Epharmix, we’ve identified a few of those friction points, have some ideas about how to move past them, and hope the stories of how we did it might shine some light on the process for others.

  1. A Multilayered Approval Process

Hospitals and payers are diligent and thorough when expenditures are involved. Even a subscription-based software as a service product like ours requires multiple layers of approval.

Understandably, the merit of a product or service often isn’t enough on its own in healthcare. The product also has to satisfy the need for patient privacy and offer systemwide security and interoperability. Clinical validation is also a requisite. As a result, even at smaller physician groups and hospital systems, multiple subgroups are involved in product reviews.

Paradoxically, we’ve found that the more interest there is in our product, the more intense the focus becomes and the higher the number of decision makers grows. This leads to more obstacles — the need for consensus chief among them. It also lengthens the delay in improving productivity and, ultimately, the quality of the patients’ care.

Through this, we’ve learned that a little empathy goes a long wayWhen we walk into meeting with chief medical officers, we let them know that we understand the meeting isn’t about us; it’s about making the time those doctors spend with us worthwhile. And that requires us to demonstrate an immediate understanding of their situation, needs, capabilities, and limitations while building the case for how we can make their jobs easier.

Those jobs are all about productivity these days. McKinsey & Co. sees a $300 billion opportunity to improve productivity in the U.S. healthcare industry through the adoption of services and products that lower costs and improve quality.

Therefore, we make it clear we have the product that can help hospitals improve productivity and service quality by providing the data they’ll need on the product’s functionality and effectiveness. We also include testimonials and feedback from existing customers, along with the details around the process for implementation. We leave these gatekeepers armed with clear and transparent pricing information — as well as comparisons to alternatives — so they can make the case with their decision makers more easily.

  1. Old Habits Die Hard

Each day, nurses, doctors, and medical assistants deal with medical emergencies, administrative tasks, and heavy workloads. They rely on a system for coping that works for them. We’ve learned they aren’t particularly eager to slow down — or even pause — to change that routine, let alone implement new tools.

Frustrated by this resistance and the slow adoption of digital medical records that resulted, the federal government solved its problem with the industry by using incentive payments to boost the adoption rate of electronic health records. We’ve taken an alternate path.

For a product to gain traction, everyone must understand and experience its benefits. With that in mind, our company assigns dedicated team members to support the implementation process. These individuals are product experts but also have the industry experience that allows them to speak our clients’ language and anticipate and address any objections.

Focusing attention beyond the person who signs the contract speeds up acceptance and implementation. These “boots-on-the-ground” user interactions have big impacts on overall relationships and facilitate long-term placements of the product.

  1. Pilot Programs Can Stymie Innovation

Healthcare, and hospitals in particular, are in the midst of a pilot program epidemic. This can lead to mistaking a large number of pilots for proof of innovation. The pilot approach can also lead to small sales and limited implementations to the point that even the most promising solutions are threatened with extinction because the direct nature of cause and effect can’t be discerned.

But we choose to see a “silver lining” in an initially limited scope introduction. The bonus is that your own customers can show you where the product fits in best so that you can adjust and provide a clearer transition into a full rollout. Therefore, we quantify each user’s experience to fine-tune it for better acceptance.

Healthcare isn’t the only industry that is slow to adopt new digital methods. But by understanding where the friction points are and adjusting your own sales and implementation tactics accordingly, you can create a smoother and shorter glide path to acceptance and a long-term placement.

 


 

Image credit: CC by, COD Newsroom

About the author: Blake Marggraff

Blake Marggraff is CEO of Epharmix, a company at the intersection of medicine and consumer technology offering interventions that use automated phone calls or text messages to manage patients’ conditions while collecting disease-specific data.

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