CIOs to vendors: Don't call us, we'll call you

Hospital CIOs are fed up with pushy IT vendors who repeatedly call or email when their first contact is ignored, according to a new survey by healthsystemCIO.com.

They're also annoyed when vendors insist their IT department won't have to be involved in an implementation when that's clearly not the case.

But what really ticks CIOs off is when the vendor goes around them to other senior executives or clinicians, the survey finds, or falsely suggests they have the CEO's endorsement for their pitch.

"They should realize that if we don't call back, the message is 'It's not you, it's me' or something to that effect," wrote one of the respondents.

HealthsystemCIO.com queried its 197-member advisory board this month for the snap survey. A slim majority, 53 percent, said they don't mind being contacted by health IT vendors, with 37 percent saying electronic contacts are OK. But just 16 percent said they are open to phone calls as well as emails and communications through LinkedIn or other professional networks.

A whopping 79 percent, meanwhile, said that vendors should take any lack of response as an indication they're not interested. Many said they are just too busy to spend time on phone pitches or responding to unsolicited emails.

The best way to get on a CIO's calendar appears to be by developing an earlier relationship at an industry conference or other event, with 72 percent saying a prior relationship builds trust.

In spite of the high annoyance factor, though, 81 percent of the CIOs queried said the vast majority of IT sales people they interact with employed professional sales tactics.

Then there's this, as mentioned by one of the respondents:

"In response to me voicing displeasure in their direct sales attempt with a department, they said, 'Well, next time I just won't tell you that we already made the deal.' Fact is, they had sold it … except they forgot that only the CIO can give final sign-off for IT-enabled solutions. Can you spell rejected and black listed?"

And this exchange, also mentioned by a survey respondent:

"Vendor: We can reduce the maintenance you are paying by 50 percent or more.
Me: We don't pay any maintenance.
Vendor: Don't you want it reduced?
Me: We don't pay any maintenance. We keep spares and swap them out, repair the old hardware or replace and go on.
Vendor: Don't you want to save money?
Me: The only way I can save money in a scenario where we don't pay maintenance is for you to send me a check every month without me buying anything.
Vendor: We don't do kickbacks if we're not even making a sale."

Eye-rolling at such tactics aside, the findings suggest some vendors have a way to go to foster the type of collaboration the government says it will take to achieve health IT interoperability and data exchange.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is promoting collaboration through its Beacon Community and EHR Vendor Exchange, which brings together seven electronic health record vendors and 17 Beacon Communities representing 62,000 providers.

And stakeholders agree that vendors also will have to coordinate with providers and payers to successfully navigate the transition from ICD-9 to ICD-10, which last just last Friday was delayed until Oct. 1, 2014.

To learn more:
- here's this healthsystemCIO.com post
- see a breakdown of the numbers
- read the Beacon Community announcement

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