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Monday, May 8, 2017 12:00 PM

The Bands, Bikes, and Buttons of Emerging Strategies

Written by Frank Fortner, President and COO of Iatric Systems

We all need to recharge our internal batteries now and then. To recharge, some climb Mt. Everest in their personal time, some take vacations. For me, it’s making music — singing, writing, playing. Last year, just for fun, I released a Daughtry parody song espousing the virtues of telehealth called “Staying Home.”

But back when I was in a college rock band, I never intentionally set out to be a singer. As a young ‘mulletized’ guitar player (yes, I too see the irony) I wanted to be the next Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme) or George Lynch (Dokken). But our little band couldn’t seem to get the right singer to audition for us, and the duties somehow fell to me. Let’s call that an emerging strategy, that is, I set out to do one thing and instead, ended up doing something different.

Strategies emerge in business all the time. In the late 1950s, Honda’s strategy was to sell large, touring motorcycles in the U.S., but they started having engine problems due to the longer riding distances in the U.S. vs. Japan.

While they were busy re-engineering to fix all this, something else happened. The small 50cc “Super Cub” motorcycles Honda employees used for running errands began to catch on as recreation vehicles. People started riding them on the weekends — even off-road as “dirt bikes” were gaining in popularity. Then Sears called Honda and wanted to begin selling them. Honda balked initially because they didn’t think Americans wanted little bikes, but eventually agreed. As you can imagine, the Super Cubs were a big hit, and Honda went on to capture 63% of the U.S. market. Why? Because they weren’t strictly married to their initial strategy and as a new one emerged, they adapted successfully.

In almost all cases of emerging strategy, market forces are at work. In the case of my college band, the lack of skilled singers in the market (those who were willing to audition for us) forced us to try something different. In Honda’s case, the market spoke loudly and let Honda know how wrong they had initially been about what it really desired.

At Iatric Systems, we always strive to listen to the market and address the needs of our customers. One example of our emerging strategy is in the area of workflow integration. The top challenge still faced by hospitals and clinicians is the elusive interoperability, which no one has completely been able to solve.

Our customers tell us that they simply want to have all the patient data in one place, when they need it. Sounds simple, right?

We’ve listened to this concern, and answered with our FlexButton™ solution which integrates timely, actionable insights into the clinical workflow, enriching the default user experience for safety, quality, and efficiency.

We’ve always been strong in the realm of integration and, as an example, we still implement traditional HL7 interfacing every day of the week. But today, with the industry largely focused on EHR Optimization, and the timely need for information, we’ve expanded our definition of integration to include the workflow domain itself, i.e. the “last mile” of integration and interoperability.

For example, why make a physician log out of the EHR and into another portal to check for additional results (perhaps from an HIE) when you can bring those results directly into their current workflow? Hence, FlexButton gives us a way to integrate timely, actionable insights within a clinician’s existing workflow, improving both care quality and efficiency. True to any emerging technology, the market is driving both demand as well as today’s use cases, and we’re only getting started with the eventual number of cases — which is virtually limitless!

Moving forward, we will continue to keep our eyes open for additional emerging strategies because (aside from my short-lived college rock band) they often lead to a big hit for all involved!

To see a few examples of how FlexButton is improving the clinical workflow, you can view these short videos here.