Tales From the Crypt • We left off our story of MedTake with Jim Pesce’s note trying to recruit me to head up sales at MedTake, the extremely modern bedside micro- based system for nursing notes, vitals, etc. • Jim hoped I could do the same stellar sales job for Micro Healthsystems that I had done for HIS, Inc. in nearby Brooklyn just a few years before.• So did I, as I received a nice chunk of stock options (Micro had already gone public) and all we had to do was make the first few installs go smoothly so we had some references to sell more.• So I joined in the fall of 1986 and tried my hand again at helping a start-up make it as big as SMS & McAuto, the giants back then.• To open the eyes of CIOs who never worked for an HIS vendor, I’m going to tell some inside stories about what goes on inside vendors – might help you understand their very different world…
Wow, Some Title!• First thing, check out the title I had: pretty impressive, huh? That should get me an audience with any Director of Nursing (DON)!• When I got to West Orange, NJ, and checked out Micro Healthsystems offices, I learned just what kind of division I was “president” of: • A single FTE! Now, granted, she was an RN, which was a pretty important background to have for a bedside system, but not exactly the “span of control” one would expect of a pres. • So, when you meet some vendor rep who is the “Senior VP of the Midwest Region,” don’t be overawed as they may have 1-2 sales reps under them!
• My first RN, Joanne Karl, leftA 2 Brave RN! nd early due to the horrible new commute across NYC to NJ from her home in LI near PTI. • So we searched for a 2nd RN, and found this brave lady on the left: Cindy Baker, who moved from her home in the Midwest to live in a NJ hotel. • She had never seen MedTake before, but she sure knew nursing, and earned great respect at our early installs. • So just how long has your trainer worked for you’re HIS vendor? And how many installs on the product you’re buying?
Impressive Client Lists…• Besides the 2 pilots mentioned in last week’s episode, we had an amazing prospect right across the Hudson at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in uptown Manhattan, a huge place and prestigious name!• Joanne took me there one day for a meeting of RNs piloting MedTake, and I was humbled at the number of Masters degrees and EVEN a few PhDs in nursing in the room – what a class outfit!• What were we doing there? They were exploring MedTake for free – for such a big name, here, have few and try them out…• Seems they had a Board Meeting coming up, and MedTake was to be a star attraction – show the bosses just how advanced their hot IT shop was…• Right after the Board meeting, they dropped us cold and continued their inhouse path on IBM’s PCS/ADS.• So don’t get too impressed by big user names – are they fully installed? Running all apps you’re buying?
“Independent” Consulting Studies…• We faced a lot of challenges from prospects wanting to know how to cost-justify MedTake – could we prove any real savings?• Well, we hired our audit firm (one of the Big 8) to do a “time & motion” study at our most advanced pilot, Palisades Hospital.• They proposed observing nurses using MedTake to document how much more time they spent at the bedside vs the nurses’ station. • We coughed up the dough, they sent in some pros, and we waited eagerly for the results… • The results were inconclusive – no more time spent at the bedside with or without MedTake. • So we thanked them and shelved the report! • Keep that in mind net time you read some impressive study proving the ROI of new system “X” – what about all the studies that didn’t!?
Real World Implementation Issues• We sold United Hospitals Medical Center in nearby East Orange, NJ, an “inner-city” facility if there ever was one! I remember their impressive DON, Dolores Henderson (hello!), but who was such an amazing leader of a nursing staff that was seriously under-staffed...• We had an early meeting with her to discuss installing the bedside terminals and, being an inner-city environment, suggested we would bolt the MedTake terminals to the tables seen on the right so they wouldn’t be targets for theft…• She stated they had items a large as vendor machines stolen from floors, so she called maintenance and they decided to also bolt the table themselves to the walls!• Hardly an item on an RFP feature checklist
“Expert” Consultants!?• By 1987, we made good progress with MedTake, getting it live at about 5-6 hospital sites, with a hundred or more devices each.• I got a call one day from the “assistant” to an big-name consultant doing a survey on bedside systems, so I gave her the full list & #s.• Then went to AONE’s big annual show in Chicago where she was speaking, and brought Dolores with me to talk about her go-live.• At the convention, this “expert” was the keynote speaker, and she proceeded to debunk the whole bedside terminal concept as being balderdash. Said she had done extensive research and couldn’t find a single hospital really using them.• I was flabbergasted: apparently her assistant (secretary?) had either lost the notes of our phone call, or it was edited out by the “expert!?”• Always ask where those “experts” got their data!?
My Sales Dénouement• So what happened to MedTake? Sadly, all the sales came form Micro’s financial systems clients; me and my sales team couldn’t deliver squat…• On April 1, 1987, Jim Pesce called me into his office and gave me the pink slip - devastating!• After almost 20 years in HIS, I was a failure…• It hurt bad, but Jim was right – I just did not repeat the miracle of HIS Inc in Brooklyn. Jim then hired Bruce Sherr, a superb sales pro with SMS roots, and Bruce sold MedTake like hot cakes.• I called my friends desperately looking for a job, and John Indrigo from InfoStat Texas told me about another HIS pro who was starting a consulting firm in NJ – Bob Pagnotta, a big name!• I called Bob and the rest, as they say, is HIS-tory – we are now in our 25th year as HIS Pros. So if you ever get bopped, don’t despair – it may actually turn out to be for the best - thanks Jim!