Why has it proved so hard to achieve universal standards usage in the healthcare supply industry? A review of progress over the years, and interviews with leading figures from across the industry, raises a lot of potential reasons why a tipping point has not yet been reached. But the one reason which sticks out for me, and which I suspect is the overriding reason for reluctance, is substitution, aka commoditization.
We know all about this fear in the insurance industry. Yet our industry is learning to move beyond protectionism and toward innovation. It's no longer practical to protect the price or availability of a product or service by withholding information. Sure, data standards make it easier for buyers to compare offers. But failing to support common standards is like trying to trip customers up as they visit the store next door.
Customers respect suppliers who come clean. They want transparency. They want suppliers to be easy to do business with. And they want quality, accountability, and wraparound service.
Let's say that, all things being equal, customers will choose on price. The right competitive response is not to confuse people about whether the situation has been equalized so they can't make a decision on price. It's to make your offer on value rather than price. In other words, you enable customers to make fair comparisons because you're confident you have an outstanding offer on one or more of the customer's decision criteria.
Sometimes a kind of synthetic debate about the value of standards takes the place of a more useful debate about transcending commoditization. Standards are enablers. You've got to want to enable the business, not handicap it. Prodigo