Several years ago, Chuck Christian, CIO at Good Samaritan Hospital in Vincennes, Ind., co-wrote a book on marketing internal health information technology initiatives with Steven Bennett and Judy Kirby of Kirby Partners, a health information technology recruiting firm.

At HIMSS12 in Las Vegas, Christian and Bennett will present an educational session on the importance of I.T. departments communicating to those they serve about what’s happening and how it will affect them, and sell them on the project, whether it’s a new implementation or an upgrade.

Hospitals have done the relatively “easy” I.T. projects by now, such as patient accounting and registration, Christian notes. Now come the far more complex clinical, health information exchange and business intelligence systems. “You can’t just dump in CPOE without letting them know how it will change work processes.” It’s important to spread the message internally that “based on what others have seen, this is how we think it will impact us from operational and administrative aspects,” he adds.

The problem is, a lot of CIOs think marketing is a dirty word, Christian bemoans. But selling the project is critical to its success. Good Samaritan’s CPOE project, called Better Electronic Access Meaningful Use System, or BEAMS, is touted as part of a 7-phase strategic initiative to become a beacon of excellence.

The sales job is basic marketing with all the trappings--flyers, newsletters, banners, YouTube videos, mouse pads and mock commercials played in employee lounges--to get the message out about why an I.T. initiative has been launched and why it’s exciting, says Steven Bennett. “I.T. often fails to realize the type of impact they have on the hospital. Chances are that people on the I.T. staff or marketing department can write brochures and create other marketing materials.”

Lecture 31, “Marketing the Healthcare IT Project,” targeting senior executives, is scheduled on Feb. 21 at 11 a.m. More information is available at www.himssconference.org/

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