Consumers? Wha?

Update 5/19: Wonderful news! Today I was invited to represent the consumer perspective at this event! Kudos and thanks – I intend to add real value.

Investors and disrupters to the alert!

MassTLC (the Mass Technology Leadership Council) is running a meeting on June 5 about the supposedly burgeoning business of healthcare IT.

Their early announcements only mentioned a system vendor and a system buyer, with additional panelists to be announced. I’ve run conferences so I know what it’s like to find panelists, so I wrote to them suggesting that the consumer/patient perspective was missing, and volunteering to be a panelist.

I emphasized that I’m in high-tech marketing so I completely understand the business side of things, particularly healthcare’s complex ecosystem, and have given many conference presentations in the past. And, my cancer last year consumed almost a million dollars of healthcare spending.

The next thing I know, in today’s email (below), they’ve changed the TITLE of the session to be consumer oriented, and filled the rest of the panel … with more VENDORS:

MassTLC Healthcare/IT Summit:
Is the Consumer the Next Big HealthCare IT Buyer?
Opportunities & Obstacles

Thursday, June 5, 2008
7:30-11:00 am
Hyatt Regency, Cambridge, MA

We’ve convened a panel of thought leaders from the IT community to brief us on their investments and their vision for the healthcare IT market. We’ve also assembled a panel of healthcare CIOs and IT buyers to give us their perspectives on these investments and expect a lively and provocative exchange.

– Michael Barrett (moderator), President, Critical Mass
– Patrick Boyle, Vice President, America’s Healthcare & Life Sciences, IBM
– John Halamka, CIO, Care Group/Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
– Paul Mattes, Managing Director, US Health & Life Sciences, Microsoft
– Dan Nigrin, CIO, Children’s Hospital
– Gary Sevounts, Senior Director, Global Healthcare Solutions, Symantec

I just called them to volunteer again, and the gent said he’s already gotten feedback that he should remove consumer from the title! (And put in more buzzwords like EMR.)

At this writing, the title on the event page itself is unchanged, but the title on the master events page says “Placing Bets: Top IT Vendors’ Healthcare Visions and Investments.”

I may be wrong, but I sniff a B School case study in the making – an industry that insists that it likes its blinders. Somebody seems to be completely missing the whole 2.0 consumer-driven, “we get to say” aspect of things.

I hope they’ll realize the ecosystem view could be enriched – and made more accurate, more complete – by hearing about what tools the boomers want as they enter the high-healthcare-consuming phase of their lives. If not, I see an opening for disruption even before the new market gets developed.


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2 Responses to “Consumers? Wha?”

  1. Ted Eytan says:


    Great story – reminds me of the story from the Toyota world about there not being cars on the IT diagram of the factory.

    It sounds like you added enlightenment to the organizer’s thinking, and to mine – if I am asked to be on a panel about consumers in health care, I will ask that a consumer/patient participate.


  2. Ted’s comment last week is worth link-chasing. His post, from 2006, includes this remark:

    I can see that it’s not the LEAN tools that provide benefit (even though they really help move the work faster), it’s the way we think that does.

    Excellent point, and it echos what we’ve learned in my day job: goals & strategies first, business processes second, systems later (to support the process).

    I have just one beef with your analogy, Ted, ol’ buddy. As a patient in an ecosystem, I am not quite analogous to a car in a factory! :)

    But I’ll accept the analogy if you’ll agree on this: The car and the patient are both ‘the center of attention’, the reason for the hospital and factory to exist, and the focus of optimization.

    But a massive difference is that you can’t ask the car what it would like. The car’s “needs” are legislated by geniuses in meeting rooms. Too often in healthcare, that’s how patient needs are determined.

    Plus, I submit that a car doesn’t go out on the Internet and bring useful information to the table. :)

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