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Joining Chilmark Research: Making a Difference as an Analyst

by Ken Kleinberg | August 11, 2017

Ken Kleinberg VP of ResearchAbout a year ago, I met John Moore – we were listening to a prominent health IT vendor describe their current product and service portfolio, customer references, go-to-market strategy, etc. John and I glanced at each other more than once, eyebrows raised at the same time. We chatted a bit after the event about what we heard, what rang true, what we were skeptical about. We remarked about how difficult it was for someone either new to the health care industry, or heads down, or experienced with only a few of the thousands of vendor, provider, and payer organizations in our highly complex and changing market to make sense of it. There were so many technologies, buzzwords, regulations, and trends to keep track of.

We then talked about what was at stake. Although our health care system has developed many of the world’s most advanced procedures and the resources available here are unsurpassed, we know that hundreds of thousands of people lose their lives each year to medical mistakes and oversights, and many times more suffer unnecessarily – not to mention the costs which are through the roof. Patient outcomes and experience are not what they could be or need to be. And despite the best efforts of dedicated and motivated healthcare stakeholders, many feel frustrated with their careers and the organizations they work for that they are not able to accomplish more.

I thought back to the days I first started working as an analyst at one of the more prominent firms – this was prior to the Internet. Information was obtained via calling someone, or having them mail you product or service literature. We had lots of long meetings. Information was hard to come by back then, and we thrived by being at the center of it.

When the web exploded and information started to flow more freely, many clients felt they didn’t need analysts as much anymore – they could get all the information they needed. What, of course, many didn’t anticipate was the overwhelming amount of information that would become available – and the even larger problem of making sense of that and figuring out what and who to trust.

Fast forward to today – there are more market research firms, conference organizers, news outlets, consulting firms, and analyst firms than ever before. What sets them apart? I think you know the answer – focus, experience, and independence.

I love working with our experienced analyst team, being able to do methodology-based vendor ratings, not having an axe to grind, and focusing on the most pressing issues and the technologies and approaches most likely to make a difference.

I’ll tell you, I’m absolutely a fan of the firms that attempt to survey the market for vendor customer satisfaction, shipment numbers, market share, etc. I’m glad they do it so I don’t have to. We’re able to compare and contrast their results and methodologies to help us give better advice.

I also like to keep an eye on what kinds of conferences are being offered. I’ll give the organizers this – they certainly know how to pick the hot topics. I think it wise to look for a balanced agenda – are there providers and payers represented in addition to vendors?

I have plenty of good thoughts about the media – if you are looking for breaking news as to who got acquired, or which provider is willing to talk about their latest application or success, or which vendor claims they are in a certain market, there is plenty of information to glean. I see it as our role to then ask the tougher questions and, if warranted, push back on the answers.

And while there are many fine consulting firms out there willing to give advice, I’ve seen pressure exerted by them to extend the engagement.  I’ll always remember the provider organization that threw their hands in the air when I answered their question – “Finally,” they said, “someone willing to give us their opinion and not just tell us what they think we want to hear.”

In comparison to some of the larger research firms, I like the fact that Chilmark is not owned by a large corporation, doesn’t sell products that compete with its clients, and is focused on just health IT. The bigger firms also have the challenge of managing large crowds. Seat based pricing and/or clients having more of a relationship with their account manager than the analysts is not what we hear our clients and prospects asking for.

Alright – was this all a set-up to promote Chilmark? Well, yes. I love working with our experienced analyst team, being able to do methodology-based vendor ratings, not having an axe to grind (other than seeing our industry move in the right direction), and focusing on the most pressing issues and the technologies and approaches most likely to make a difference. John has built something special over these 10 years with a reputation of independence, and making the tough calls. We’re going after the messy markets where the boundaries are not clear, the vendor claims are hard to sort through, and the stakes are high. Our upcoming conference on Convergence of providers and payers is a great example (have you registered yet)? Our recent Prior Authorization and Care Management reports are other examples.

I wanted to save the best reason I’m joining Chilmark for the end – the chance to work with you – clinicians, strategists, business analysts, market professionals, developers, patient advocates – we all have the opportunity to learn from each other to ultimately improve the consumer/patient experience. I want to thank John and the Chilmark team for having me, and I hope I do you all proud.

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