Lessons learned in a year like no other

For many companies and the people who power them, 2020 was a challenging year. As we head into 2021 our CEO, Ann Barnes, takes a look back at obstacles we overcame at IMO and important lessons learned.
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If there was ever a year to reflect on our business, it’s certainly this one. Some days, it seems like just yesterday we convened the entire IMO team to plot out what we thought 2020 would look like, only to have it completely upended 6 weeks later.

For us, three things became very clear at the start of the pandemic:

  1. We needed to continue to deliver best-in-class customer service to the 4,500 hospitals and 500,000 physicians counting on us.
  2. To do that, we needed to ensure our employees could seamlessly transition to remote work for however long it would be required. (Turned out to be a long time.)
  3. Finally, as a company in a unique position to create products that could help with the pandemic response, it was our responsibility to devote time and talent to get this accomplished quickly.

Watching our employees pivot to remote work while tirelessly working to release products for free to the market in response to the pandemic was one of the most remarkable things I have ever experienced as a leader. As we come to the end of this anything-but-normal year, here are a few things we found worked for our business in 2020.

Appointing a business continuity czar

We appointed our head of Security and Enterprise IT to lead the transition to remote work, keep us current on pandemic-related news and regulations, and ensure we could continue customer service without interruption. Having a point person really helped us stay on top of business as usual and, at the same time, understand what we needed to know on both local and state levels to inform the needs of our employees.

Continuing to focus on market needs

IMO’s response to the pandemic began at the start of the year by ensuring that coronavirus-related EHR data collection was clinically relevant and specific. We believed the best way to help the healthcare community was to get everyone speaking the same language. We released COVID-19-specific terminology and codes in January and have been updating our dictionaries monthly. As a follow up, COVID-19-specific value sets were released to our customers free of charge. Lastly, we expanded the scope of our support by publicly releasing additional content to facilitate the collection and standardization of COVID-19 data globally.

Partnering to innovate

At the start of 2020, we knew we wanted to expand into data management in order to leverage our foundational strengths in clinical interface terminology. We expected to show off this technology and get real-time feedback at HIMSS, but we didn’t let the cancellation slow us down. We innovated and worked with partners to develop IMO Precision Normalize and release it to the market this year, expanding our relationship with data management organizations. Numerous updates to our processes and technologies are taking IMO to the next level by increasing our ability to be agile and intentional in how we build products and work with our partners. Due in part to these updates, IMO Precision Normalize was our fastest product release ever.

Creating a community (even if it’s online)

As a medical coding company that normally attends a lot of conferences and events, we learned to lean in to webinars and online events this year. We prioritized building connections and a sense of community with clients and the industry more broadly.

Looking to the future

As a growing company with many talented employees – and big plans for the future – we couldn’t let this year thwart the innovative spirit that brought us to where we are today. While we may have fewer conferences and in-person meetings for the foreseeable future, we continue to look at the next three to five years and the problems our products can solve for the healthcare industry.

As we close out this year and focus on what’s next, I want to wish our extended IMO family a happy and healthy holiday season and new year.

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