For healthcare Independent Software Vendors, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that the market is growing rapidly. As an example, look at the electronic medical record (EMR) segment: a recent analyst report predicts 18% annual growth in EMR spending from 2010 through 2015 which is proving to be accurate. The outlook is similar for segments such as picture archiving and information systems (PACS), point of care systems, and health information systems (HIS) for radiology, emergency, surgery, pharmacy, laboratory, and many other specialties.
But the bad news is the highly competitive and fragmented nature of the healthcare market—the EMR segment alone has more than 1,000 players. As a result, ISVs have to achieve competitive differentiation through not just product features, but the ability to meet stringent availability, security and performance requirements that is cost effective for the customer —or risk being overlooked in major procurements. The nature of the competition is also changing. In the past, ISVs won new business with features and functionality. Now, the battleground has shifted to IT issues such as availability, security, performance, compliance and user experience— areas where many ISVs have to invest time and resources on addressing infrastructure issues rather than innovation around their products.
That’s why the most successful healthcare ISVs are building on alliances with data center vendors such as VMware to offer joint solutions for hospitals, clinics, and physician offices. VMware Technology Alliance Partners in the healthcare space include both market leaders and innovative startups. By partnering with VMware, healthcare ISVs can offer validated virtualized solutions that address their customers’ key concerns about availability, scalability, reliability, and performance. VMware technology also provides deployment options: ISVs can deliver clinical applications on-premise or via the cloud.
VMware healthcare solutions address three primary areas: Private/Public Cloud for Healthcare, point of care solutions, and compliance and automation.
Private Cloud Rationalizes Delivery of Patient-Care Applications
As patient care—and clinical outcomes—depend more and more on EMR, PACS, HIS, and other healthcare solutions, application availability and reliability become increasingly important. At the same time, the siloed deployment approach—where each application has its own server, storage, and operating system—has become a nightmare for IT groups, driving up complexity and draining resources from more strategic investments in patient care and provider productivity.
Many healthcare organizations are rationalizing their infrastructures by using a private cloud to deliver patient-care services. ISVs play a crucial role in this trend—after all, there’s little point in deploying a cloud if key applications are not virtualized. VMware technology enables ISVs to virtualize their applications using vSphere 5.0, manage application delivery with vCenter, and improve availability and reliability with VMware High Availability and provide DR services with VMware Site Recovery Manager. By moving to a virtualized environment, ISVs not only offer better levels of service today, but are positioned to respond flexibly to datacenter consolidation initiatives and mergers and acquisitions down the road.
Enabling ARRA and HITECH with the Public Cloud
Healthcare ISVs providing a virtualized private cloud solution to their customers can now seamlessly offer the same service as a public cloud/hosted offering while maintaining high levels of security and compliance. This solution is also easier to manage, more cost effective to deploy and provides the same benefits of availability, scalability, DR and performance that a private cloud solution does. This helps large and small Healthcare ISVs expand their market share by offering a cloud solution to practices that do not have the IT resources to manage applications and infrastructure in-house, but are looking to embrace EMR technologies and leverage the reimbursements provided as part of the ARRA/HITECH acts of 2009. Healthcare ISVs are leveraging VMware vCloud Director as part of their own public cloud hosted offerings or partnering with one of the many VMware Ecosystem partners like Dell, CSC, Colt, Verizon to offer a public cloud service to their customers enabling them to rapidly transition from a paper based workflow to a digitized EMR and Connected Care
VMware Alliances provides ISVs with a proven methodology to enable this transformation to the public cloud.
Point of Care Systems Deliver Information to the Provider’s Location
Successful healthcare organizations focus on increasing the productivity and mobility of their clinical staff. More specifically, minimizing the time spent on information management and thus maximizing time with the patient are crucial factors in both provider and patient satisfaction. Point of care systems often play an important role, giving physicians, nurses, and other providers fast, convenient access to clinical applications and patient data from any location.
VMware is uniquely positioned to support ISV point-of-care solutions with VMware View 5.0 desktop virtualization technology. For example, Cerner has leveraged View in its Follow-Me Desktop solution, which allows doctors to access their desktop from any endpoint in the facility. Beside supporting efficient delivery of patient care, Follow-Me also performs authentication and tracking functions that complement other security and compliance mechanisms within the organization.
Compliance and Automation
In the typical hospital, clinic, and practice, the effort and resources devoted to HIPAA, SOX, FISMA and other compliance activities continues to escalate. Seeking more efficient ways to satisfy these requirements, healthcare organizations of all sizes are looking to some form of intelligent care infrastructure to automate the compliance process. Healthcare ISVs are increasingly integrating their applications with VMware vShield to provide comprehensive security of Protected Health Information (PHI). vShield and the vCenter Operations Suite of products help organizations manage security and compliance by detecting sensitive healthcare information and automatically remediating issues across the virtual and physical infrastructure, reducing risk and accelerating compliance.
This posting is a quick overview of some of the ways that VMware is working with ISVs to provide joint solutions that answer the most pressing needs of the healthcare organizations from major hospitals to individual physician practices. Look for future postings about specific solutions and technical issues in this space. You can also learn more about VMware healthcare solutions here.