One way to frame the process of thinking about how to market to one’s peers is to consider the “Five Forces Framework” developed by Professor Michael Porter of Harvard Business School in 1979. Professor Porter’s framework has become a standard tool for business strategy analysis and is taught extensively in leading business schools, corporate leadership seminars and entrepreneurship incubators. It articulates the five main vectors of influence on the decisions of businesses to enter, compete and exit markets. The forces are summarized in the below illustration:
As a developer of an EMR system who also comes from the marketplace of the target consumer (surgical specialists), I have evaluated the threat of substitutes (e.g., incumbent companies known in a particular medical specialty for their EMR offerings, custom-designed record systems made by individual doctors for their own use or old-fashioned paper charts) and leveraged the bargaining power of customers (who among us plastic surgeons does not want to maximize the value derived from a purchase for an office?). I can now effectively assess the bargaining power of suppliers, in that I believe we have a unique product platform to offer, with an adaptive learning engine and a native iPad application with elegant user interface. This positions EMA Plastic Surgery and EMA Cosmetic as premium electronic medical record systems. Competitive rivalry in the healthcare information technology space is fierce and is likely to result in a consolidation of vendors in the next 5 years. EMA’s value proposals – medical domain content, cloud data storage, mobile device implementation, ease of use, time saving workflows – will enable Modernizing Medicine to be a major player as competitors with less innovative technologies struggle to maintain market share, or are forced to exit the market entirely.
This is all a very general discussion, however. From the standpoint of a software developer, I look at how to build into EMA the kind of information I want and need to readily access to treat my patients and ensure favorable outcomes, and how to do it in a way that can be more intuitive than competing systems. I look at what technologies and techniques need to be added to the content on a weekly basis: Is there a new laser device for pigmented lesions for which I should create a documentation tool? Are there steps in a body contouring procedure that should be easy to document with a minimal number of clicks, while still being customizable? What is the right balance between too few menu items for a list of “Aging Face” symptoms on an iPad screen and too busy a user interface?
Additional questions arise as we consider larger strategic aims: What features make sense for us to build in-house, and which ones are done so well by other companies that it makes sense to integrate their technologies with ours so that plastic surgeons can take advantage of a suite of best-in-class products? What are surgeons and their office managers (often spouses) willing to pay for which features? How do we manage training and implementation to minimize disruption of a busy surgeon’s practice? What are the Pain Points for any given client, and how can we supplement the product with additional content or features to speak to that client’s (or prospective client’s) needs? Where and how do we advertise EMA’s unique features – CME meetings? Dinners with local plastic surgery societies? Aesthetic practice trade journals? AdWords campaigns? All of the above?
If you are a plastic surgeon using EMA or considering buying EMA, we’re interested in your feedback on these kinds of questions. Think about the “Forces” that influence your own business, and how the use of state-of-the-art software technology like EMA fits in with YOUR strategy. Through our customer support system and our EMA Central online forum, we welcome our clients into the cockpit to help us direct our development process to meet the evolving needs of the plastic surgery industry. As your surgeon colleague and your co-pilot in developing EMA Plastic Surgery and EMA Cosmetic, I welcome you aboard.
This segment is part 2 in a two-part series: Designing EMR Systems for Colleagues by Tim A. Sayed, MD, Medical Director of EMA Plastic Surgery and EMA Cosmetic.