RIS Support – Like the Flea and Elephant?

By: Randall Swearingen

I think that most RIS users today would agree that RIS support, from most RIS vendors, is lacking.  It reminds me of the story of fleas and elephants.

I once read that if you put a flea in a mason jar and close the lid (with some air holes, of course), the flea will jump repeatedly into the lid in an attempt to escape.  After a while though, the flea will measure its jump to a height just below the lid to avoid the pain of crashing into the lid.  Once this happens, you can remove the lid from the jar and the flea will continue to jump but never out of the jar.  Repeated failures have permanently reprogrammed the flea’s behavior.

I’ve heard a similar story about circus elephants.  When they are very young, one hind leg is chained to a huge stake in the ground.  The elephant will pull for days, trying to break loose from the chain.  After a while, the elephant realizes that resistance is futile and stops trying.  At that point, the trainer wraps a tiny piece of rope to the elephants’ hind leg and fastens it to a small stake in the ground.  The elephant still believes a strong chain is holding it, so it no longer attempts to break loose.  Thus, the elephants’ thinking has been reprogrammed.

This brings us to people.  When was the last time you had a repair person show up when they were supposed to?  When was the last time you had work done right the first time?  When was the last time a vendor admitted they were wrong and made a genuine effort to make things right?

Did you get upset when you found yourself at the end of such poor quality and service?  Amazingly, you probably did not.  Why?  Because we’ve been reprogrammed to accept poor quality and service as a standard.   In fact, we’ve actually grown to expect it.  After repeated bad experiences, many of us permanently change our behavior.  We lower our expectations.  We accept lateness, sloppiness, poor quality and incomplete work.  What’s more, we spend incredible time and energy in order to “work around” poor products and services.  In short, we’ve just like the flea and the elephant.

I founded Swearingen Software almost 30 years ago because I saw “flea and elephant” behavior among users of radiology information systems.  And I continue to see widespread flea and elephant behavior among RIS users today.  It takes a tremendous toll on radiology departments  in term of time, money and morale.

At Swearingen, we do things differently.  Our RISynergy™ RIS is developed in close partnership with our users.  RISynergy anticipates the way you work and reflects best practices across many of the strongest radiology departments in the country.  Our user conferences are truly user-driven where users make suggestions and vote on those suggestions.  The highest ranked suggestions go into the next release of our software.  Our support specialists are RTs.  Many are former customers.  Thus, they’ve walked in your shoes.  They know how time-pressured you are, and how important it is that your RIS quickly adapts to your changing needs.    Our price is a fraction of competitive alternatives, and our product comes with an exclusive money-back satisfaction guarantee.  (It’s the only one we know of in the industry).

Most importantly, we know that radiology software is more than a product and service.  Rather, it’s a mutually beneficial partnership that can stand the test of time, stress and change in the environment.  We believe that customer satisfaction is a right and not a luxury, and that it’s time to put and end to the “flea and elephant” mentality – for good.