By Bernadette Wilson
Delivering technology that ensures people have access to healthcare information — and their healthcare providers — will give solutions providers a competitive edge.
Healthcare IT solutions providers should focus on person-centered solutions that build healthcare’s connected enterprise and facilitate the easy movement of data. That’s what Dr. Michael McCoy of The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) told Business Solutions at the HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) 2015 conference.
With this in mind, BSM asked some channel experts how VARs, managed services providers (MSPs), and ISVs can create and deliver those new healthcare solutions while also growing their businesses and bottom lines.
Dave Sobel, MAXfocus director of partner community for LogicNow, believes solutions providers are well positioned to take advantage of this new healthcare opportunity. “At the core of this trend is the use of technology — providing people with access to services and wellness information as well as ensuring information is shared between individuals and their care providers,” Sobel says. “However, beyond the core requirement of a solid IT foundation — as delivered by managed services — the channel has the opportunity to bring technology and compliance expertise to the table. Doing so requires the business-process knowhow to create and link these systems together. There will also be training, security, and integration components, all ripe for channel expertise — not to mention software development opportunities combined with project management needs. These are all high-value (and thus high-margin) opportunities, positioning solutions providers in a critical CIO role, deepening their engagement with customers, and providing significant value. This effort mirrors IT’s focus on the user as a whole and should be a natural alignment for solutions providers focused on healthcare.”
Technology Can Overcome Hurdles To Patient-Centered Care
Solutions providers can get an edge on their competition by responding to healthcare providers’ challenges of making processes and workflows more patientcentered. Andy Tippet, Americas healthcare marketing lead for Zebra Technologies, says, “One of the critical aspects of patient-centric healthcare is the ability to possess and access the right information for patients and their care providers. The advent of the electronic health record [EHR] and new and more powerful telephony will strongly aid in this goal. Yet, prior to patients being able to use their information, they and their caregivers need to capture that information. Data points such as patient IDs, specimens, medications, assets that help with care, and the ID of all the people who provide that care need to be converted from the physical to the digital. For example, a medication that was successful for a patient two years earlier may be needed again. But where is the information on the dose, the time, or the route at the moment of administration of the drug? That information needed to be captured in the past and still obtained in the present.”
Payment is another area that affects a patient’s experience. Chas Gannon, SVP of strategic alliances for Worldpay, says, “Healthcare providers need to offer straightforward payment solutions that utilize a personalized approach while enhancing the patient’s power to pay. If they’re misinformed about healthcare costs, the medical recovery process will be complicated and laden with financial troubles.” He says options like accepting payments at the time of care allow patients to manage health-related costs as they choose.
Thomas Jensen, VP of worldwide channel sales and strategy for the Printing and Personal Systems Group (PPS) of Hewlett-Packard, adds: “Mobility solutions give healthcare professionals fast, consistent access to patient records and critical information in an industry where every minute can make a difference. To become more patient-centric, solutions providers should advise customers to adopt tablets and other mobile technologies as part of their day-to-day responsibilities.” He advises providing purpose-built devices featuring powerful processors, voice recognition software, bar code readers, and lightweight hardware specifically designed for the rigors of a hospital environment. “These efficiencies not only optimize clinical workflows but also save time and allow professionals to have more timely, focused conversations with patients,” Jensen explains.
David Graffia, VP of sales at dinCloud, says that in this environment of mobile device use, the channel can deliver cloud-hosted infrastructure, in which, he says, this new communication model thrives. “The high-performance standards offered by the cloud afford all parties involved near-instant access to patient data.” He says the channel can also help healthcare organizations meet related compliance standards and other regulations. “Channel partners can help companies quickly migrate to the cloud — which is critical to keeping pace with the rapidly evolving healthcare industry.” These cloud-hosted infrastructures also offer solutions providers the opportunity to capture recurring revenue with managed services.
Data Security Is A Prime Concern
In a time when everyone is concerned about the risk of data breaches, discussions centered on healthcare data collection and accessibility inevitability turn to the issue of how to protect it. Dan Troup, VP of worldwide sales enablement for Nuance Communications, says, “A challenge healthcare providers face is how to properly safeguard data to avoid security vulnerabilities and risk of noncompliance. Solutions providers need to advise customers to reduce reliance on paper and errorprone manual processes and help them to deploy smart technologies that deliver more efficient care to patients. By implementing scalable solutions that include authentication, encryption, and destination control, hospitals can gain control of information while enhancing the way patients interact with it.”
Healthcare Providers Of All Sizes Need Patient-Centered Solutions
Robbie Cox, director of merchandising, ScanSource POS and Barcode, U.S./Canada, reminds solutions providers that these challenges are not limited to large healthcare providers. “Community and rural hospitals present good opportunities for VARs. Not only do they often prefer to partner with local VARs versus larger networks, but also many of these smaller healthcare facilities need upgrades to bar code scanning, mobility, and bar code printing solutions, and their wireless networks could be in need of upgrades to meet security requirements or bandwidth needs. And by providing managed services, VARs can supplement their end users’ limited IT staff resources. For healthcare providers, including private practices, home healthcare, or durable medical equipment providers, VARs can provide mobile EHR/coding as-a-Service solutions to help them access medical record information and accurately record the transaction inside or outside of the office.”
Karen Burton, healthcare solutions business development manager for Logicalis Healthcare Solutions, points out that for healthcare providers of any size, there are incentives to keep people well and reduce readmissions. “From protected portals that give patients access to their electronic health records and images to the use of social media outlets like Facebook to facilitate communication between patients and their family, friends, caregivers and support groups, technology has a role to play.”
Ari Bixhorn, VP of Panopto, comments, “Video can play an important role in patient education efforts, providing guidance on disease prevention, medical procedures, and chronic condition management. Video has been shown to promote active patient participation in treatment decisions while saving physicians time associated with individual counseling. For the channel, this translates into a massive addressable market for helping healthcare providers select and implement video solutions.”
Burton adds, “Pharmacy incentive programs use gaming- like coupon offers to patients checking their blood pressure in the store. And hospitals are using in-home biometric devices to monitor patients, using real-time analytics to identify trends and partnering with ambulance companies to provide personalized interventions. With the right systems in place, patients can email their doctors with minor concerns rather than visiting in person. “Creating solutions that match these needs will allow us to increase our business while helping hospitals reduce readmissions and provide better overall, person-centric care.”