Selling a New Patient Portal

Selling a New Patient Portal

Agarwal Anil, Roberta McDonald, and Steve Diamond have spent the past 3 years developing a patient friendly portal that could be layered onto the electronic medical record system of an existing company. While it took some sophisticated programming work, the three of them had prior work experience with IBM, Apple, and Cerner, as well as some smaller IT start-ups, so their background in this work was rather sophisticated. Additionally, they had educational preparation with degrees from MIT, Carnegie Mellon, and Cornell. After significant testing, and having received investment from two West Coast venture capital firms for 30 percent equity, the three principals decided roll-out of the product was now important and ready to commence. The target market for the product was large, multi-specialty group practices with a minimum of 100 physicians. The group believed that this practice size would see the investment as relatively small but would recognize the added value of the product as worthwhile to their large patient base.

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Based in Chicago, the group felt there were sufficient large group practices in the upper Midwest, and they would not have to travel too far in order to reach their initial target market. If they were successful in their initial sales, it would establish credibility for a trickle-down effect for other smaller group practices.

While the challenge of gaining entry to a large group was significant, Steve Diamond’s mother was a physician in Chicago. Using her contacts, they were able to get an initial meeting with the chief information officer at one of the larger multi-specialty group practices in Wisconsin. After the meeting, the CIO was intrigued with the portal design and said that he would arrange a meeting with the information systems committee. He would call them back as to a future date. Two weeks later a meeting date was confirmed. “This committee consists of members from my staff, the CFO, physicians from five specialty departments, the department chair of primary care, and the head of laboratory and services. It is a pretty diverse group.”

“Could you give us access to your existing portal page?” asked Steve, “In this way we can show a comparison with our page and its features.”

“Sure,” said the CIO, “temporary access is no problem, and you should have about 20 minutes in front of the group, 30 at most.”

The Committee Meeting

Two weeks later, Agarwal, Roberta, and Steve drove to Wisconsin and spent time at the hotel going over their PowerPoint slides. They were going to show the features of the portal compared with how the group functions now and what the patient would see when they access the group’s portal.

After going through the presentation, Agarwal, Roberta, and Steve opened it up for questions. Dr. Boyer, chair of primary care spoke up first, “I really like this portal; it is really user friendly—almost like Amazon. How fast could we integrate over our platform?”

As Roberta was about to respond, Dr. Jain, the chair of cardiovascular surgery interrupted, “I disagree, while it looks nice, my premise is we don’t change what isn’t broken. Why spend money here when we have so many other needs. And, patients have not complained about the portal. We have just gone through an upgrade with Epic. I have had enough.” The chair of surgery nodded in agreement.

“Well, I think whatever might be beneficial for patients does put us in a better competitive advantage,” said Ms. Jonson, the director of the laboratory, “after all, it is not like we are in a state without a lot of strong competition.”

After 15 more minutes of back and forth, the CIO interrupted. “This has been a good discussion; Let me thank Agarwal, Roberta, and Steve for showing us an exciting new patient portal. I think our discussion shows we need to have more discussion here among ourselves and possibly another meeting. Let me suggest that I get back to you in few days to follow-up.

With that, Roberta, Agarwal, and Steve left the room. On the ride back to Chicago, Steve said, “I am not sure how that meeting degenerated like that. What did we do wrong?”

“I am not sure we did anything wrong,”Roberta said, “Were we presenting to the wrong group?” “I think we need to step back and rethink our strategy,” said Agarwal, “We know we have a good product, but we need to refine how we get our first adoption.”

 

Directions:  This case study is based on the adoption of a new patient portal to a committee.  After reading Chapter 4, incorporate into your discussion the Industrial Buyer Behavior.  Provide a full page, single space paper, using APA format and outside reference with the application of this model to marketing.

 

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