Q&A | May 12, 2014

Smart VAR Healthcare Keynote: 5 Keys To Success In The Healthcare Vertical

By Bernadette Wilson, associate editor, Business Solutions magazine
Follow Me On Twitter @bernadeditor

Smart VAR Healthcare Keynote Shahid Shah

In his SmartVAR Healthcare Summit keynote, Shahid Shah, known as “The Healthcare IT Guy,” told VARs selling into the healthcare IT market that it is necessary to understand why this market is different from any other.

At the May 6 summit in New Brunswick, NJ, Shah spoke from a wealth of experience. He is the chairman of HealthIMPACT Conferences and president and CEO of Netspective Communications, an IT professional services and custom software development firm. Over the last 15 years, Shah has held the positions of chairman of OSEHRA’s Advisory Board, CTO for CardinalHealth’s CTS unit (now CareFusion), CTO of two electronic medical records (EMR) companies, a chief systems architect at American Red Cross, architecture consultant at NIH, and SVP of healthcare technology at COMSYS.

He gave solutions providers attending the summit advice on selling in the market, including these five keys that every healthcare IT VAR needs to know.   

  • “You have to figure out why things are the way they are.” You can’t approach a potential healthcare IT client with a new technology that you think will work for them —and expect them to adapt to fit the technology. Workflows in healthcare — some decades old — are deliberately designed to ensure patient safety and to meet regulations and requirements. They won’t change to suit a new technology.
  • “You want to focus on ‘actionable innovation.’” Instead of giving the impression you want to change workflows, show how your solution will make the client’s job of identifying, diagnosing, treating, or curing diseases faster, better, and cheaper. Shah comments, “If you don’t understand the clinical ramifications of the technology you’re installing, you don’t deserve to be there — but it’s not that hard to learn.”
  • “You have to realize the business your customer is in.” Shah took some time to discuss current healthcare challenges and trends in the U.S. For example, he talked about the shift in activity from delivering health services to efforts aimed at prevention and wellness. Shah says those who understand this shift will see billions of dollars of new revenue opportunities.
  • “You have to understand who the buyers are.” Shah says you need to identify the payer, the benefiter, and the user of your solution. VARs working in other vertical markets might find all three of these roles refer to the same person or group. He says, however, “You have to remember, in healthcare, nothing’s simple.” The payer could be the CIO or a hospital donor, the benefiter could be the government receiving the data, and the user could be a nurse or a data entry clerk. If you address the concerns of each party when you present your solution to a potential client, you will have an advantage over your competition.
  • “You have to understand why hospitals buy.” Shah says do your homework and discover the problems your customer is trying to solve. He comments, “If you know those subject areas and can speak to them, you are going to continue to get meetings.” He adds that in addition to solutions that increase revenue and productivity, Shah says a problem every healthcare provider has is how to get more patients in the office. “If you provide technology, services, solutions, or consulting that can help get more patients in the door, they will buy whatever you have to sell.”

The first-of-its-kind Smart VAR Healthcare Summit featured news on the latest trends in the healthcare vertical, secrets from successful healthcare VARs, and VAR opportunities in healthcare. The one-day event gave VARs the opportunity to meet colleagues and connect with healthcare channel leaders, learn about new channel services, and meet vendors.

Smart VAR Healthcare Summits, powered by ScanSource and Business Solutions, are sponsored by: Motorola, Honeywell, Datalogic, and Zebra. A second Smart VAR Healthcare Summit will be held in Chicago this August.

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