Like the illnesses we often seek to cure, many problems in healthcare IT spread across more than one area. In my experience, the bigger the hype around a market segment, the more readily problems appear. For example, missed expectations (or poor communication) between providers and their vendors is commonplace across all aspects of healthcare. But botched communication is exacerbated in new, complex markets, such as population health management (PHM).
I saw this firsthand at KLAS’ recent Cornerstone Summit, when one vendor claimed that the problem of “vendors overpromising” has largely gone away. A provider quickly responded that “the honest people will stand out” because, at least in the PHM market, “there is so much baloney out there.”
As we move down the road of improving healthcare, KLAS has found that one of the best ways to help bridge this gap in expectations is as simple as putting the opposing parties together in “neutral territory.” That lets the disparate groups discuss solutions away from the tensions of their day-to-day challenges.
These gatherings also allow for the sharing of best practices. For example, one vendor explained that they insist on presenting to a customer’s entire board to make sure everyone is on the same page. What a great way for an organization to set clear expectations of how they intend to move forward!
During that same discussion, the Chairman of Greenway said it is impossible to be successful unless both the provider and vendor share a road map with targets, plans, and goals. Today, far too many vendors operate without this shared vision of where they want to take their provider partners.
How can we create a shared road map? Lee Jones of GSI Health explained, “We tell the provider who from their organization we expect to be part of the effort. We identify and go with the person that will best communicate our shared vision to the rest of the organization. Setting those expectations has solved a lot of problems.” This additional effort may cause headaches, but the long-term benefits of clear expectations make the extra work worthwhile.
In fact, it’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of clearly communicating expectations. Not only does that communication help partners avoid conflict, but it also helps them maintain mutual trust. Several of our provider attendees expressed frustrations surrounding their efforts to get physicians to buy in to PHM tools.
We lose physicians early on by sharing information about the tools that is simply not correct. After a clinician decides that an IT solution is untrustworthy, he or she will be slow to come back to the table and try again. According to clinicians, leaders of provider organizations are too casual about this breach of trust, and the leaders can’t share correct information unless they and their vendors have established realistic expectations.
Few market segments have more energy (or resulting smoke and mirrors) than population health. Bloated expectations leave room for ever–widening gaps between promised outcomes and reality. At KLAS, we hope that through conversations like those at our Cornerstone Summit, we can begin to help vendors and their provider partners come together to establish realistic, attainable checkpoints on their path forward.