Whether you’re a current customer of theirs or not, if you work at a MEDITECH hospital, you likely have heard of him or of his company, Iatric Systems. We were lucky enough to get a chance to sit down with Joel Berman, President of one of the largest MEDITECH vendors out there and arguably one of the most connected people in our corner of the industry. Talking on topics from their latest products to MEDITECH’s new 6.0 platform, you’ll see quickly why he’s got a reputation for addressing real issues head on and telling it like it is…
Iatric Systems is a well-known and respected name among MEDITECH users. For those who might not be familiar with you, can you share how many MEDITECH hospitals you currently work with and how you’ve achieved such a high level of success?
We currently have more than 1,000 customers. As far as our success, we treat customers as we would want to be treated. This may sound over-simplified, but it’s what we do. We’ve also made it a priority to hire good people — nurses, physicians, former CIOs, laboratory directors, business office personnel, consultants, etc. — who have a wealth of MEDITECH experience. A recent employee survey showed more than 2000 years of combined hospital and healthcare experience.
In an industry where companies come and go, you’ve managed to not only sustain but grow; to what do you attribute that?
Yes, we’re happy to be celebrating our 22nd anniversary this year, and we have more than 250 employees. One of the reasons we’ve gotten to this point is responsiveness to our customers’ diverse needs by offering a wide range of products and doing so in a timely manner.
A recent example of that ability to respond quickly would be Meaningful Use Manager. Shortly after the ONC published its final Stage 1 Meaningful Use requirements, we heard from CIOs that it was very cumbersome to calculate numerators and denominators and assess their overall progress in meeting Meaningful Use requirements. So we decided to help. By the end of the year, we had programmed Meaningful Use Manager. We started installing it at our beta test sites in January of 2011, and they started going live by May of that year. Now Meaningful Use Manager is helping more than 50 MEDITECH hospitals stay on top of their progress and successfully attest to Meaningful Use.
Additionally, we offer solutions for not just the IS department, but for clinicians and providers, for the lab, for the pharmacy, for the business office, etc. We understand and provide products for the expanse and scope of the entire hospital.
What is Iatric Systems’ relationship with MEDITECH?
We have no direct relationship with MEDITECH. However, we share with them the common goal of helping customers maximize their MEDITECH investment. We want MEDITECH to succeed. On the other hand, if MEDITECH says “it can’t be done” please give us a call.
There are several recent examples of where we’ve been able to help users when they were told it couldn’t be done. We integrate with MEDITECH even in 6.x despite the claim that third party vendors would be locked out. And just today, Joe Cocuzzo printed admission labels to an “unsupported” thermal printer (the Zebra LP2824plus/ZPL printer) at a C/S site. We have printed numerous items (labels, wristbands, RXM prescriptions, etc.) to a variety of “unsupported” printers.
Among some older examples are using the report writer to produce tape output or simply printing a list of passwords. One of the neatest things we wrote many years ago was code that would take you directly to a routine, not a menu, if you double clicked the MAGIC key.
You’ve been described as ‘colorful and outspoken’, not content with the status quo; how does that translate into how you do business?
In a word – integrity. Good or bad, if you don’t tell customers the truth, then how can they believe anything you tell them?
“There’s no doubt I’m passionate, and I suppose I’ve been known to mix things up a bit, but it’s always about getting it right and making it easier for the customer.”
Because we hire people who have walked in the customer’s shoes, they share that same passion.
If I’m a MEDITECH CIO, why do I need anything more than MEDITECH?
In the healthcare industry, there are very few ‘one size fits all’ solutions. There are a few reasons why hospitals may want to consider “other vendor” solutions. Among the reasons to consider our offerings:
- We believe we have better solutions. Take MobiLab, for example. Many of our MobiLab customers came to us after attempting in vain to implement what MEDITECH offers.
- We can respond quickly. I mentioned the case of Meaningful Use Manager, but many of our solutions were born the same way. Other recent examples of well-received solutions that came to market quickly include Public Health Interfaces, Clinical Document Exchange and our patient and employee portals.
- We’re flexible. Take a look at our interfaces, for example. MEDITECH gives specs; we offer customization. We even offer two flavors of our interface engine, EasyConnect Jaguar. Hospitals can choose to manage all of the interfaces themselves using the engine, or we can manage all of the interfaces for sites that don’t have those kinds of resources in-house.
Where do you see Iatric Systems in the future?
If you want to buy something from a third party, you don’t want to find out next month that they’re no longer in business. We continue to be committed long-term to providing products and services to MEDITECH users.
How do you feel about MEDITECH’s new 6.0 platform? I’ve read some of your MEDI-talk blog posts where you’ve voiced some frustrations at times with the new code.
I’m not so sure this was the smartest migration path for MEDITECH to take, but we’re supporting it. And we’ve created IatriCare, which gives MAGIC sites another option to achieve the advanced clinical experience hospitals need but haven’t been able to get without upgrading to 6.x or moving to another HIS vendor altogether.
That being said, has Iatric Systems had any issues integrating with the new environment?
Absolutely not, we’ve migrated our solutions to the MAT platform without issue.
How do you see MEDITECH Connect helping the MEDITECH community?
Any forum that brings together MEDITECH users in a collaborative environment is beneficial for everyone. MEDITECH Connect capitalizes on the social media movement to bring MEDITECH users together. In addition to all the forms of marketing we do, one of our greatest channels is word of mouth. It’s particularly helpful given the lack of regional conferences over the last few years, and the increased need for on-demand information. MEDITECH Connect allows that to happen.
At the end of every interview, I love asking this question. If you were to pick one thing MEDITECH is doing amazingly well and another that could potentially use some work, what would they be?
Over the years MEDITECH has been excellent at writing fast, efficient code that enabled clients to get amazing performance out of their machines. In the early days of mini-computers, DG only licensed 64 users per machine. With MEDITECH’s operating system, a hospital could have 120 users on the same hardware and it worked. On the negative side, I really think MEDITECH could have designed 6.x differently to let existing clients upgrade their user interface without throwing away 10 or 20 years of work on reports and attributes.
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