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DOCtalk by Dr. Gregg 7/12/11

July 12, 2011 News 3 Comments

Still Stupid Simple

In my continuing quest for a new EHR, I’ve been seeing lots of demos, reading lots of brochures, and gawking at all kinds of PR stuff. Recently, some of it caused me to reflect upon my old friend, Stupid Simple.

I’ve developed such an adoring admiration for Stupid Simple that I have actually adopted his name for my personal mantra. Usually this works quite well as I sit in Padmasana (full Lotus pose) chanting, “Stupid Simple, Stupid Simple, Stupid Simple…” I typically find mindlessness with relative ease and have actually levitated on an occasion or two when invoking his powerful mantric name.

Today, though, evil forces must have been wafting through the ether of my meditation zone. Far from nearing Nirvana, I found my consciousness most vilely preoccupied with thoughts about health IT Marketing and Sales… ack! Talk about a meditative letdown.

I tried Siddhasana and even Swastikasana poses, but I could not evade these disruptive mental intrusions. Thus, I silenced my Stupid Simple-ness and listened to an internal dialogue rage within my head. What I heard was Stupid Simple taking on the unnamed evil forces of crappy HIT Sales and Marketing. (I’ll call them “S&M” for now.) It went something like this:

S&M: “Customers can’t recognize the reworked diatribe we use and/or steal from all the others like us. We all use the same regurgitated crap just wrapped up with different branding. HIT customers are too stupid to know.”

STUPID SIMPLE: “HIT customers are not stupid. Just because you try to fluff your way to a sale, doesn’t mean customers won’t eventually realize that your vaporous claims and “best of breed” assertions won’t eventually be seen for what they are…or I should say, for what little they really are.”

S&M: “Oh, yeah? Well then how come we keep making sales? How come people keep coming to look at our products?”

STUPID SIMPLE: “If you only give your dog slop to eat, he’ll eat it. But, you’ll lose him if someone starts handing out prime rib.”

S&M: “But, they are sooo dumb. They keep asking the same dumb questions like, ‘What does SaaS mean? What does ASP mean? What’s the difference between SaaS, ASP, and a cloud offering?’ They are sooo slow!”

STUPID SIMPLE: “Just because you throw a bunch of acronyms around doesn’t make you smart. Heck, most of the time, when someone well-versed in a particular vernacular or jargon uses such acronyms or industry-specific terms when talking with people less well-versed, it’s to make themselves feel as if they’re smarter or to make the others feel inferior.”

S&M: “Oh, yeah? Well, AAMOF, IMNSHO, you’re just a collocated de-acronized quip. You’re FOS, a WOBTAM, and a PONA.”

STUPID SIMPLE: “Yes, and your fecal encephalopathy is showing your SBI.”

S&M: “Huh?”

STUPID SIMPLE: “See? While it may help to facilitate internal communications, jargon and industry-specific acronyms don’t help endear customers. Nor does ‘biz speak.’ Corporate communications are fine if it makes you feel professional, but we are all still people. If you’re trying to reach out to others who may not be so familiar with your world, translate. Use real language, common terms – ‘people-speak’.”

S&M: “So, you’re saying I need to dumb myself down to the level of the ignorant masses?”

STUPID SIMPLE: “Not at all. I’m saying that to meet the needs of your customers, help them ease their pain points, stop talking down to them, and start talking with them. Help them understand how you can help them by helping them feel less helpless. (Notice the accent on the word “help”?) Oh, and can the huff and fluff stuff. Get real.”

S&M: “What?! Are you nuts? This whole industry is built upon useless white papers and collateral crap. We’d collapse if it weren’t for overpromising and underdelivering.”

STUPID SIMPLE: “Nuh uh. I mean, nuh uh, it won’t collapse. You are correct that HIT has a long and almost legendary history of providing vastly less than it promises. S&M teams have built entire companies that have very little worthwhile product behind them. But, this house of cards is just waiting for the wrong breeze to blow. Lord knows, if HITECH hadn’t come along…”

S&M: “Yes, indeedy! HITECH was a major boon for us blow-hards! Plus, it’s helped drive a stake into the hearts of the real innovators! Long live ARRA!!”

STUPID SIMPLE: “But, ARRA funds won’t last. People will eventually start to find that underdelivered products don’t work. How many times do you think you can get away with saying ‘We’ll help you deliver better care and make more money’ before people see that you aren’t capable of either? How long before those who are truly innovating create the ‘real deal’ and show just how vaporous you’ve been for so long?”

S&M: “Don’t know. Don’t care. I’m getting’ mine now and I could care less about the end users long-term woes. Don’t care if it doesn’t deliver. Don’t care if it makes their lives harder. As long as my razzle dazzle befuddles them long enough to get the sale, I’m ka-chinging my way to the bank.”

STUPID SIMPLE: “Such a waste. I’m outta here. I’m gonna go find a real EHR with honest marketing and sales folks who want to talk to me like a real person. I need a company that understands the value of me, Stupid Simple. AMYOYO, pal.”

S&M: “Yeah? Well…you are “stupid simple” aren’t you?”

STUPID SIMPLE: (Proudly) “Yes. Yes, I am.”

As the two foes drifted out opposite ears, I felt proud of my buddy, Stupid Simple. I know the challenge of finding those who understand him. But, I believe that he’s right and that there are folks out there who really do get the value of our version of the KISS Principle: Keep It Stupid Simple. Many S&M-ers, just like many HIT developers, however, just don’t get it. It’s wonderful when you find those who do.

From the trenches…

Postscript: I just found hard evidence of the suspected intrusion of those aforementioned evil forces: someone – or more likely something – scribbled “Extormity Rocks” in the sand of my desktop Zen garden!

I want that they should bury me upside down, so my critics can kiss my ass.– Bobby Knight

7-10-2011 11-51-07 AM

Dr. Gregg Alexander, a grunt in the trenches pediatrician at Madison Pediatrics, is Chief Medical Officer for Health Nuts Media, directs the Pediatric Office of the Future exhibit for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and sits on the board of directors of the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP).

Comments 3
  • “you’ll lose him if someone starts handing out prime rib”

    So where’s the beef?

  • Wow, Gregg, that’s quite a piece! You so eloquently challenge the status quo.

  • Dr. Gregg —

    As one of those S&Mers . . . I wish I could become indignant and deny what you wrote.

    Alas, your perception is pretty spot on. However, it’s less cleverness on the part of many S&Mers, more that many are oblivious to who you are and what your needs are. Most of the HIT S&Mers I know think they have done a fantastic job in communicating effectively with prospects. Some have — most are so very off the mark.

    Your blog post inspired me to write my own from a marketer’s perspective — Seek First to Understand, Then to Be Understood (http://bit.ly/nTx8B9 ) . . . and within a few hours I’ve already received many emails from marketers telling me that I am wrong — marketing is stronger and more powerful now than ever. Of course, like the marketing material they often put into the marketplace, it contains these broad statements with no facts backing it up.

    I love the career of marketing, and when done right, it is a win-win for the vendor and the prospect. It’s a shame how the role is becoming relegated to a tactical, execution machine instead of the source of market intelligence and strategy for engaging our audiences.

    Thanks for your post!

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