Dell takes on healthcare industry

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Dell announced at HIMSS07 in New Orleans that it is planning to provide full-scale solutions to the healthcare industry. Dell’s vice president of healthcare, Jamie Coffin, who took on the role last month, said the company wants to provide a complete health information technology ecosystem to the entire healthcare community, including providers, payers and the pharmaceutical industry. Dell is a technology partner in the National ePrescribing Patient Safety Initiative, launched in January, which will provide free e-prescription software to every doctor in the country.

Dell also intends to become heavily involved in standards groups that will drive the future of the healthcare industry in the United States, according to Coffin. The vendor intends to partner with service and software providers. No job is too large or too small for Dell in the health IT field, Coffin said.

Dell announced contracts with two safety-net hospitals, Louisiana State University (LSU) Health Sciences Center and Boston Medical Center. Dell, in partnership with VMware, Intel and EMC will create a virtualized server environment with LSU which includes servers and storage in New Orleans and backup systems, which will insure continuity of operations in case of another disaster on the same scale as Hurricane Katrina. LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans — comprising schools of allied health professions, dentistry, graduate studies, medicine, nursing, and public health — worked with Dell to develop a flexible, easy-to-implement and reliable IT infrastructure recovery plan that would allow operations to function, even if the main campus was disabled. “Dell wanted to help,” said Coffin. The organization is now in a position to build a duplicate environment in minutes for strong data backup and recovery.

Boston Medical Center has standardized on Dell hardware, including wireless desktops and laptops and a virtual server environment, which allows multiple operating systems and applications to run on a single server. The facility will experience better point-of-care services and better outcomes at lower costs, said Coffin. “Cost savings are important in healthcare.”

The healthcare industry will be hit with enormous needs as the baby boomer generation ages, Coffin said. It will become increasingly important to break down silos of information and Dell plans to use a partner strategy to start delivering technology in the background.

Dell is working on the ability to offer personal health records, Coffin said. “We are looking at things like overall wellness, not just symptom care.” Dell has been active over the past two years regarding policy related to electronic healthcare. The company has produced Accelerating eHealth, a series of seminars addressing the healthcare environment’s need to change. Dell also has been actively involved in developing standards for home health and medical devices, Coffin said. Dell looks forward to changing and transforming healthcare in the United States, he said, and has “a strong foundation to work from.” Plus, “we really understand customers’ problems.” To help its customers, Dell has developed and launched “Idea Storm,” an online community with specific areas for healthcare. Participants vote on ideas which then “bubble up to the top” of the list. Already, thousands are participating, he said. “It’s another way to have a dialogue.”

Coffin also mentioned delivering PACS in large scale. “You’re going to see a lot from Dell in the next six to 12 months,” he promised.