Every leader of a competing electronics health records vendor probably jumped for joy once they heard the news that Glen Tullman was ousted by Allscripts, the company that he made what it is. Or, maybe I’m wrong. Perhaps leaders of competitive companies would have liked to have kept him around because of what he did to the organization following the acquisition of Eclipsys.
The man, for the most part, has been considered a genius. Peers in the industry gave his performance praise, patted him on the back and showered him in adulation through the maneuvered takeover of the hospital health IT giant. At the time, in 2010, the move made by Allscripts was hailed as a magnificent effort.
It was the kind of move that was supposed to have turned the industry on its head. Many thought it would, and many eyed the effort with envy for such a move was powerful and assertive.
It did rock the industry. Competitors shook in slight fear with the announcement of the news, and many feared for their longevity. In this fact I am serious. I know. I was at a competitor. The whispers went something like this: “Will this new monster kill us all?”
Though all of we worked to secure our shores, many of us were fearful of the coming tide.
But, from the beginning, there was always a sense that Allscripts, and Tullman specifically, was positioned as too big to fail. Perhaps we should have seen a previous merger, the failed move to integrate Mysis, as a harbinger of things to come.
There was even a point in which I had dubbed him the king of health IT. I referred to him as such during internal meetings in my effort to create the queen of health IT, who was a president of another firm in which I worked.
There was a level of pomp and circumstance about everything he seemed to do through his promoted PR moves and image building to his constant appearances and associations with Washington’s power elite, including the president.
I can’t imagine Tullman saw this coming during his rise to the top. Just 18 months ago he was on top of the health IT world, seemingly unafraid of the world in which he lived, or so it seemed from my outside position.
Hindsight is 20/20, though, and it’s easy to question failed policy after decisions have been made.
When the recent takeover bids failed to take the Allscripts private, the company had but one choice and he and other leaders of the company had to go. It’s a common scenario in the world of politics, another world which Tullman is known to frequent. As things grew worse for the once mighty giant, everyone associated with the debacle had to go.
And, even in lands where great kings have ruled, even their glory days come to an end.
But, does it surprise me that he and others at the disheveled vendor are gone? Gone from the vendor that positioned itself as too big to fail? Gone from the vendor that asserted itself upon the market; that worked to take over a market in which its ambitions were bigger than its capabilities?
No, I’m not surprised.
In many ways Tullman died at the hand of his own sword.
And, as we’ve seen countless times and will see again, no company nor its mascot is too big to fail. No kingdom too vast to conquer, no land immune from the trials of the nations it builds.
And so, the king of health IT is no longer king, but neither is he a pauper. And, like most who have achieved his heights, it’s safe to say we probably haven’t seen the last of him.