Bending the odds in your favor at HIMSS

by Stephanie Kovalick, Chief Strategy Officer, Sage Growth Partners

So many booths, so little time. With more than 1,300 vendors at HIMSS, all vying for the hearts and minds of payers, hospital and health system leaders, and investors, how does one discern which organizations are poised for success? Here’s how we are deciding where to place our bets this year in Las Vegas:

Does the vendor have a clear understanding of the market? 

There’s no shortage of idealistic ideas out there, but they don’t always resonate with the market. The vendor that clearly understands the boots-on-the-ground challenges and workflows to drive value for payers and hospital and health systems will win. The flashy patient engagement apps or value-based care solutions may sound good, but they don’t necessarily matter when there isn’t a clear business or clinical need or proven adoption driving the purchase.

Do they offer clear value?

With slim margins and mounting financial pressures, showing clear, sustained value to buyers is critical. Vendors focusing on strong use cases and unmet needs that link to defensible economic value and return on investment will capture buyer engagement and make inroads commercially. We often see vendors bring solutions to the market where there isn’t clear value – they struggle with commercial traction because they can’t make the business case to justify investment. Consider these questions when assessing value:

Is there a strong revenue angle? With 70% or more of a health system’s revenue still linked to fee-for-service reimbursement, value-based care solutions aren’t always relevant.

Is there a strong tie to clinical quality? There is a solid business case for quality, and health systems still struggle here.

Is there a strong case for efficiency? Managing the workforce effectively, improving communications, and reducing waste – these all contribute to the financial viability of a health system and, while not always sexy, encourage investment.

Are they focused on outcomes? 

People don’t buy a quarter-inch drill because they need a drill – need a quarter-inch hole. Focusing on outcomes illustrates a clear understanding of what the target market needs to meet financial, clinical, and quality objectives. Leveraging technology and supporting services to drive clear outcomes and move the needle will set vendors apart.

One of the best things about HIMSS is the way it reflects the Healthcare IT market—exciting, but crowded, busy, and filled with ideas that may not be around next year. Making the most of your time there means finding a way to those vendors who have real staying power. As you meet with people telling you about how their disruptive and innovative solution is going to revolutionize the HIT market, ask yourself:

  • Do they actually understand the market’s needs and pain points?
  • Are they demonstrating clear value?
  • Are they focused on the types of outcomes that deliver value and resonate with the market?

If not—don’t waste your time.

What are you looking into at HIMSS? I’d love to hear other perspectives. Email me your thoughts: Stephanie.kovalick@sage-growth.com.


Stephanie Kovalick is the Chief Strategy Officer; General Manager, Strategy, at Sage Growth Partners (SGP).
She is responsible for building SGP’s internal growth strategy as well as leading the strategy consulting team. 
She also has deep expertise in healthcare payment models and revenue cycle management.