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  Industry continues to play Healthcare Super Tetris
Damon Braly. Health Management Technology. June, 1996.

 

The goal of Healthcare Super Tetris is to fit together the pieces to move to the next level.

Ok, I admit it. I like to play computer games. And judging from the conversations that I have had with many of HMT's readers, I'm not alone. Don't worry. I'm not going to divulge the names of the HMT readers who have told me they like to get in a quick game on their desktop computer in their office when the boss is away. Your secret is safe with me.

Tetris is my game of choice. For those of you who are not familiar with the game--or refuse to admit it--the concept is simple: Fit together odd-shaped pieces (like building blocks) to make one large piece without holes or gaps. As pieces are successfully joined, you move to the next level of the game.

Now, bear with me a little longer. This game has more in common with the healthcare I/T industry than you might think.

Take, for example, Atlanta-based HBO & Company. This company continues to fit together the pieces of many companies in an effort to eventually offer a comprehensive solution to integrated delivery systems. HBOC's letter of intent to acquire Scottsdale, Ariz.-based CyCare is a perfect example (See "HBOC gains access to physician market with proposed CyCare deal" on page 8). The acquisition allows HBOC to tap into the physician practice-management market.

This piece fits nicely into the HBOC pieces that are already assembled. With this piece in place, HBOC will definitely advance to the next level of the game.

However, the HBOC pieces are not yet fully assembled, according to healthcare I/T industry analysts. The gap that remains is the ever elusive and particularly odd-shaped managed-care piece.

To advance to the next level of the game and get an all-time high score, HBOC needs to acquire a managed-care software company, according to analysts. The other choice is to develop a comprehensive managed-care system, but that would take too much time and not give HBOC the access to an established customer base.

With Tetris, as you progress with the game, the pieces no longer fall at a leisurely pace. They start coming at you faster than you can control. You no longer have the luxury of taking the time to calculate and manipulate where the pieces should fall. Before you know it, the pieces are scattered in a haphazard arrangement and the game is over.

This industry moves incredibly fast. And, no matter how fast your company is going, your competitor(s) always seems to be going a step faster. Opportunities come, and sometimes go by, at what seems like light speed.

HBOC's reflexes are sharp--too sharp their competitors sometimes say. It will be interesting to see the outcome of how well HBOC plays the Healthcare Super Tetris game.

As with any game, be sure to keep an eye on the "new kid on the block." New players continue to come into this market. And, I don't know about you, but the "new kid" down the block from my house plays a pretty mean game of Tetris.

© 1992 Ziff-Davis Publishing Company

 

 

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