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Friday, March 24, 2017

March Madness and the Power of Information

It’s March again and our NCAA bracket office-pool reminded me about an article I read about “sharps” and “squares.”  Huh?  What on earth could this have to do with making decisions about medical equipment costs? Let me explain.

In betting parlance, “sharps” are the successful bettors and “squares” are the majority of casual bettors.  The article went on to say that most people think that sharps are people with inside information, foolproof systems or more knowledge than most.  It just isn’t true.  The major difference between a sharp and a square is the amount of time and effort sharps put into their decisions.  Casual bettors – like me – look at a couple of stats, read an article and pick the team they like better.  But the sharps make a commitment to do work that allows them to understand what really matters and get the right information to know what to do and what not to do.

For example, while casual bettors are concerned about who they think is going to win, sharps couldn’t care less about this.  What they care about is value – the price they can make the bet on that gets them the most return (like betting against what they have analyzed to be a bad spread).

When it comes to healthcare equipment buying decisions, I’m surprised at how many people I know exhibit “square” behavior.  Significant amounts of dollars are spent “betting” on decisions with very limited and often unreliable information.  No wonder everybody complains about how difficult it is to negotiate with equipment manufacturers and how they end up paying more than they think they should.

But it doesn’t have to be so.  Sharp buyers can find the right information in all those numbers. The right information can level the playing field when negotiating.  It provides transparency to all stakeholders, curtails inefficiency, and - perhaps most importantly in these uncertain times - reveals previously undiscovered value and savings.   Just like sharps, one just has to be committed to finding value and the right information.

This blog is about getting the right information to be a “sharper” healthcare executive when it comes to equipment spending.  We’ll be inviting guest authors and many readers like you to share your perspectives and participate in the dialogue.  We hope you visit here every Monday so we can share our adventures together.

Meanwhile, as a Northwestern alum, I was excited about their first round win... Based on all the information I’ve seen, I’m still betting on UNC to win the whole thing!

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