We hear the used car salesmen talk about the service after the sale. Of course you don’t really know what’s going to happen until after you buy the car. This was the analogy used when discussing the differences with some of our top Healthcare IT software vendors. There is a vendor out there that is currently losing market share and their long term customers are electing to go through the painful process of converting to another vendor. Of course my question is always the same, “Is the new system really that much better than the one you are leaving?” Cars have the same utility and function, yet we have all sorts of brands on the road. Is it a matter of branding or cosmetics? What sets the major Healthcare IT vendors apart?
One thing that I consistently hear from the people that convinced their organizational leadership to change vendors, is that the difference comes down to one primary thing; the software support. Some vendors are able to designate a dedicated person responsible for that client. They know this person by name, they forge a relationship with them and they become a part of their staff. This person is NOT an account manager. They actually do stuff, like fix actual software issues. You can call them directly, without hearing the “hold” music for 45 minutes, along with the recorded voice thanking you for holding…like you have an option!
IT leadership is very unforgiving. It has a mentally of “what have you done for me today, forget about what you did for me yesterday.” So when vendors take their eye off the ball, the client leaps over to another vendor that will treat them like they are the only client they have. That is what it comes down to. Way too many HIT vendors get so big that all of a sudden you are competing for their resources. Their sales guy is off courting new clients, the account manager is just a voice on the phone, and that’s when you start the countdown calendar left on the contract.
I guess if I had to pick another factor for clients jumping ship, it would have to be the apathy of technology advancement. It’s extremely ironic that some Healthcare Technology vendors are still using the same core technology for the last ten years. Their upgrades are cosmetic, they interface with acquired products that are rebranded under their new name as new modules, and then they wonder why other vendors are taking their clients? On one side there is software development life cycle planning, and on the other there is keeping pace with core platform technology that helps you leverage new application tools. Most focus on the software life cycle, because developing new platforms or data base strategies eats away at the profit margin.
“ All of the biggest technological inventions created by man - the airplane, the automobile, the computer - says little about his intelligence, but speaks volumes about his laziness.”