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3. The Role Of The Health Care Solution Provider Is Changing Yearly
Dan Pelino, general manager of IBM's health-care and life sciences group, sees three types of solution providers emerging as the most important channel players for health care: specialty VARs that behave, he said, like "the easy button at Staples" in that they can not only fulfill orders but also package solutions and consult for health-care organizations; ISVs that understand the crucial importance of building software programs benefiting EMRs and health information exchanges (HIE); and clinical data management and business intelligence providers that can help organizations sort out and organize the tremendous volumes of clinical data they have to grapple with.
Each has a role in IBM's health-care channel ecosystem, Pelino explained, because "doctors don't want to play integrator."
To others, it's a matter of how platforms are changing, and whether more traditional solution providers will have a place in partnership -- not in competition -- with the expanding class of platform-as-a-service players leveraging the cloud.
One of them is Covisint, which last week introduced ExchangeLink for Healthcare, a platform for enabling medical data exchange between HIEs, hospitals and health systems and physicians and health-care associations -- on-demand, cloud-deployed services intended to help health-care providers "connect the dots," according to the company.
"These interoperability problems are going to be solved by the cloud," insisted Brett Furst, Covisint's vice president of health care. "That, in turn, is going to create the new class of solutions. It makes sense. You didn't have CNN before you had digital TV, right?"
If cloud is still in its earliest stages in health care, it'll be one area where solution providers can play a crucial role, vendors agreed.
"Meaningful use needs will translate to the most sophisticated organizations having private clouds," said Roberta Katz, director and global solutions lead for EMC's Healthcare/Life Sciences group. "There are a lot of players involved, but the important piece is guiding them toward a wiser investment. [Solution providers] can help them get better understanding of what vendors they need and how their IT needs will consolidate."
4. Niche Technologies Will Be Increasingly Important Channel Plays
Other vendors, such as Fujitsu, see emerging channel plays in niche technology markets like biometrics.
Vic Herring, vice president of sales and business development for Fujitsu's Advanced Technology Group, said that as more common hardware and software products like tablets overrun the health-care channel and price and feature wars ensue, the need for advanced biometrics tools -- such as Fujitsu's PalmSecure authentication offering -- will be the more lucrative solution provider play.
"As the price comes down, you're seeing organizations a lot more open to different types of solutions than they used to be," he suggested.