Government Contracting TRENDWATCH: “Learning” Health Information Systems

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The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has just released its five-year strategic plan. Electronic health records and supporting systems are leading stars.  The plan states information captured from electronic health records can be used to speed-up the creation and dissemination of overall medical knowledge, creating what ONC labels a “learning health system.”

According to an article in FireceGovernment.com, in the U.S. today, only a quarter of physician offices and 15 percent of hospitals have EHR systems in place.  However, that number will likely increase as Health and Human Services distributes up to $27.4 billion in incentive funding to the private sector for EHR adoption over the next ten years.  And more incentives exist.  Medicare payments to providers will start to drop in 2015 unless providers demonstrate “meaningful use” of EHRs–a serious “hammer.”

The plan outlines ONC working first with a few federal agencies, then later expanding participation to other public- and private-sector organizations.  According to the article, agencies first in line for participation might include the Food and Drug Administration, the Center for Disease Control, and an HHS database that will use insurance claims as a basis for medical research.

The plan is open for comments from the public through April 22, 2011.
Read more: Big data will transform healthcare, says ONC – FierceGovernmentIT http://www.fiercegovernmentit.com/story/big-data-will-transform-healthcare-says-onc/2011-03-27#ixzz1I1kr5m6Z
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“Owning” the Government RFP

 

Selling starts long before the RFP

In government selling, you really only have two choices:  1) sit around and wait until an RFP is issued, then hope you put together a killer proposal, or 2) get in front of the RFP and influence the specifications—essentially owning the RFP.

It’s no stretch to say the latter is much preferred.  Influencing specifications—even creating sole source opportunities—is the holy grail of government selling.  But how do you achieve it?

We offer entire training seminars and have written a book to help sales teams do this, so covering it in a blog post is impossible.  However, here are a few things to keep in mind (and consider learning more about):

“Relationship” as a Key to Owning the RFP

It is nearly impossible to own the RFP unless the sales person/team has some sort of relationship with the buyer prior to an RFP release (by “buyer’ we mean the project owner not necessarily the procurement officer).  Typical schmoozing tactics will not work in government, and attempts to wine and dine are ill advised.  Instead, relentlessly pursue your network contacts to see if someone can make an introduction for you.  Find relevant content that will interest the buyer and send along on a regular basis as an “FYI.”  Deploy the Five Strategies for Building Commitment and Trust outlined in our book Seven Myths of Selling to Government available here on Amazon.com (I know—a shameless plug).

“Reputation” as a Key to Owning the RFP

Few things help “open doors” and ignite relationships better than a positive reputation.  And not just a company’s reputation either (though this is important).  Salespeople can create a reputation for themselves as someone who is “more than just a salesperson.”  Creating intentional, regular content designed to position oneself as a subject matter expert can soften otherwise hard-shelled prospects, and may even make the phone ring (a welcome relief from banging your head against the wall cold calling).  We cover this in our book, too (shameless plug number two).

“Right Fit” as a Key to Owning the RFP

Of course, even solid relationships and great reputations cannot overcome product or service offerings that are poorly aligned with prospect needs.  Getting ahead of an RFP can help you do one of two things: 1) create value propositions uniquely offered by your company (and maybe even unknown to the prospect), or 2) identify early your inability to win a deal (and move on so precious time and money isn’t wasted).  Obviously, option 1 is preferred.  “Right fit” covers a lot of ground and goes way deeper than simply meeting a set of published specifications.

By the way, in our book we show you how to construct a prospect Value Portfolio for your offering relative to your competitors, giving you insights on how to best position yourself early on (you knew it was coming).

Many salespeople we encounter have given up on trying to “own the RFP.”  For them, the passive strategy of waiting for the RFP is more comfortable, even though the results are mediocre at best.  Clearly, the methods we teach require a greater degree of effort and a long-term perspective of success building.  If it were easy, everyone would be doing it.  Yet for those star salespeople who are up for the challenge, the payoff can be huge.  We know because we’ve lived it.

By the way, did I mention we wrote a book about it?

Rick Wimberly and Lorin Bristow are principals in Government Selling Solutions (GSS) a division of Galain Solutions, Inc.  They are successful speakers, trainers and authors on government selling and securing government contracts.  The team offers a newly released book Seven Myths of Selling to Government, available on Amazon.com and other retailers.

 

TREND WATCH: “Net Zero” Energy Buildings

Logo of the United States General Services Adm...

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In October, 2009, President Obama signed E.O. 13514 setting sustainability goals for federal agencies.  The order reminded agencies of the existing requirement that buildings be designed to achieve “net zero” energy use by 2030, which means the buildings should produce as much energy as they consume.  An article in NextGov highlights the General Services Administration‘s (GSA) effort to begin converting existing facilities to attain net zero usage.  The GSA aims to be a sort of “proving ground” for new green technologies and processes.

According to the article, the new norm in the future will be net-zero, and GSA is starting down that path.  Steve Leeds, the agency’s senior sustainability officer said GSA has announced plans to convert two existing buildings to net-zero status. One is the Wayne Aspinall Federal Building and Courthouse in Grand Junction, Colo., which will become the nation’s first net-zero historic building. The second is the San Ysidro Land Port of Entry in California, the nation’s busiest border crossing, which will be net-zero by 2014. When those two federal buildings are complete, they will bring to eight the number of net-zero buildings nationwide both private and public.

IMPLICATIONS

While “green” has been a hot topic for a number of years, we are clearly beginning to see real movement in deploying the technologies that make efficiencies possible. “Net zero” is fast becoming the standard by which success is measured as opposed to simple energy savings.  Achieving this will likely take a multi-faceted approach as no single method or technology will make this possible.  Look for continued growth in this sector and consolidation among players as agencies look for “one stop shops” to help deploy the variety of energy efficiency approaches.  Also, vendors with retrofitting capabilities will have the advantage over  those geared for new construction only.