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Ceci n'est pas un Blog

by Jonathan Bush, President & CEO

Please no.

Not another CEO who thinks he’s gonna be a girl-of-the-people by blogging in an over-controlled way. I’ve been blogging internally here at athenahealth for a couple years now and even THAT gets reviewed by our legal team before our own employees see it. Oy.

That said, I just can’t stand to not make noise.

Ya know that movie on the Clancy book where the CIA guys are watching the poor soldiers get massacred on satellite and they can’t do anything about it?

Well with 40 million patients and 25,000 providers on one network, I see in real time dozens of such massacres (and some victories too) all the time that don’t seem to find their way into our national debate.

So here goes another blog…but more of a rant really. You can feel free to post comments—and I’ll even respond—though we all know this is mostly about me talking…as well as a few of my similarly Napoleonic and backed-up-with-things-to-say colleagues (and some guest bloggers doing cool things).

OK, here are just a few of the topics I’d like to cover in more detail in the coming months on the athenahealth blog, along with other stuff I’ll cook up:

  1. Uniform theory of medical practice – Yes, I do believe that there is one way to move patients through the office. I believe that every practice who says they are different is making a mistake. They either aren’t as different as they think OR they are different but SHOULDN'T be. There, I said it. No, this isn’t about dehumanizing the process. It’s about maximizing the human-to-human (as opposed to human-to-paper) time doctors have with their patients.
  2. Payers – Whine all you want about these national payers and the profits they make. I watch them move in ways that are certainly not taught in Sunday school and I’m here to tell you: they are a lot more predictable and reliable than state Medicaid plans. The irony of states going after these big nationals while they stink up the place with their own plans drives me berserk—and when you see this year’s PayerView℠ data, it’ll do that to you too.
  3. Culture – Culture is the most powerful asset of any business. Anyone who tells you that their people are the most valuable thing is a namby-pamby. If they say it’s the customer, they are shallow. If they say it’s profit…well at least they’re honest. Culture is the one thing that you can actually make as a business that:
    • Can’t be off-shored
    • Can’t be taken away by an employee who leaves you for a better offer
    • Keeps management in line as much as it does employees
  4. Product design – We are done with products, for the most part, as a society. We are too impatient for them. A product is usually a thing that you buy and then use to get some outcome. But this is America people! Just buy the outcome! It is an exhausting thing to build a service that depends on results for revenue, but it is killer once it gets going.
  5. Innovation – Never think big in this area. Think tiny and then run like mad. Before you know it, big happens. This is seriously at odds with everyone and everything I have seen in the realm of healthcare reform (and not just the Obama thing but every bloody PowerPoint keynote I have ever seen at every bloody conference, class, etc.).

The list goes on…For the two of you reading this, I will also answer any questions for which I can think of a sassy answer that I also happen to believe in.

Thanks for peeking. I hope this works for you over time.

I also hope it makes more doctors learn that athenahealth exists!! We EXIST!!!!!!

Jonathan Bush is the President and CEO of athenahealth.

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