mHealth

Epocrates and athenahealth: Better Together


Chief Marketing Officer Rob CosinukeMore than one person has described the joining together of athenahealth and Epocrates as a perfect marriage.

Well, today I’m thrilled to tell you that it’s happened. Read the press release here for the official details. And if you are one of the seemingly few out there who have not downloaded the free Epocrates app, download it NOW from the Apple Store so you can properly share in the excitement.

Our CEO & President, Jonathan Bush, shared his perspective on the rationale behind this union back in January, but it’s important enough to bear some repeating.

Epocrates is nothing short of the most widely adopted, stickiest mobile app used by physicians. There are 330,000 active physicians using it and some 96% of physician-users reported changing a prescribing decision thanks to the trusted information at their fingertips. As Jonathan has stated, we really are in awe of the way Epocrates has earned the trust of physicians, a trust that we know is hard-won and well-earned.

Our missions align beautifully. We have similar roots, similar DNA. And, as Jonathan expressed to the Epocrates network members just today, we believe we have SO much more to offer physicians together than we ever could separately.

Of course, this acquisition is just the beginning of a lot of hard work for a lot of smart people at both Epocrates and athenahealth. We know that we need to commit 100% to renewing investment in our ability to deliver the highest integrity clinical content and service, equipping physicians to deliver the best care outcomes in the most efficient way possible. And, we need to innovate in a way that allows us to better serve our current sponsors while we broaden our sponsorship base across the entire health care supply chain.

So… how do we do all this? Well, it starts with a hedgehog.

Years ago, we at athenahealth took a page from Jim Collins’ indispensable Good to Great so we could be smart about what exactly it is we want to achieve. Collins used the term “hedgehog” to describe the thing that your organization should be completely focused on, or, as he writes, the “single organizing idea, a basic principle or concept that unifies and guides everything.” After many retreats and locked-door sessions, we arrived years ago at our hedgehog: being the best in the world at getting doctors paid for doing the right thing. To this day, we measure everything we do against that singular statement.

Over the past several weeks, we’ve wrangled the same spiny beast with our new colleagues at Epocrates, and here’s where we netted out. We need to invest in and build from the passionate core of Epocrates, and that passionate core is the high integrity, highly trusted clinical content that is delivered into the hands of physicians daily. Epocrates is not unlike a newspaper that needs sales revenue to remain viable but can only succeed by doing the best reporting possible, and by feeding and nurturing the passions of a crack editorial team. At the same time, we can’t shy away from engaging the healthy, essential tension between purpose and profit that lies at any “for-benefit” enterprise. At athenahealth, after all, that tension is embodied in our mission: “helping caregivers do well doing the right thing.”

So, after many long sessions, here’s where we landed with the Epocrates hedgehog:
Epocrates is best in the world at helping caregivers make decisions with confidence and efficiency in the moments of care.

With that as our North Star, we’re now able to take every idea that emerges and put it up against that statement. If it fits, we move forward. If it doesn’t, we move on. That will take a lot of discipline, but as Collins suggests, and as we’ve learned, exercising that discipline day in and day out is what it takes to go from good to great.

Sometimes, the best kind of inspiration comes from places you least expect to find it.

Like many folks in the HIT world, I spent last week at the HIMSS Conference in New Orleans (what Jonathan fondly calls “the boat show”). One night, a large contingent of athenistas headed to the Marigny to catch some music, and, while there, we met a street poet named Antoine who was busking with an old typewriter. Since it was top of mind, I told him a few things about our hopes and vision for Epocrates and, with just a scattering of ideas to go on, he came up with this poem, which (despite it being written on the street at 1 a.m.) has some uncanny sparks of insight:

Epocrates Poem from New Orleans

“Be centered,” it reads. “Be focused.” For me, at least, this provided a bit of cosmic affirmation that we’re on the right path—that the new hedgehog for Epocrates is pointing us in the right direction. We look forward to making the journey ahead with our new Epocrates colleagues and hope you share our excitement. And if you haven’t done it by now, go download the Epocrates app!