Health Care A Growing, Lucrative Market For Channel

Several vendors used the show to introduce a wide range of IT software and hardware, with a special focus on storage and security. And while some are specific to the medical space, such as Picture Archiving and Communications Systems (PACS) solutions, others meet a variety of customers&' requirements.

For many in the channel, it is the latter class of products—those that have a wide range of applications but meet the needs of the health-care industry—that are of greatest interest, said Dan Carson, vice president of marketing and business development at Open Systems Solutions, a Willow Grove, Pa.-based storage solution provider that counts area hospitals among its clients.

Which products are most suitable for a medical organization depends on how critical the application is to the organization and its patients, Carson said.

“If it&'s a critical application, the hospital may need four or five nines of availability,” he said. “Many IT products are not specific to hospitals, but their use depends on how they are implemented.”

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Hospitals are like any other business when it comes to IT purchases, Carson said. “They are conscious of cost,” he said. “They don&'t want to pay for anything specific to health care if they can get it off the shelf.”

CDW Healthcare, a division of CDW, Vernon Hills, Ill., used the HIMSS conference to launch two infrastructure solutions to support health-care providers.

The Mobile Point of Care Infrastructure Solution looks at ways to bring technology to caregivers regardless of their location within the medical facility, and includes products such as workstations or laptops, diagnostic monitors and wireless equipment.

CDW also has an initiative to reduce PACS cost and complexity with solutions that use open standards such as Digital Information and Communications In Medicine (DICOM), Health Level 7 (HL7) and Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise (IHE).

BridgeHead Software, a Woburn, Mass.-based developer of integrated storage management software, has teamed up with Boston-based PACS vendor Amicas to enable its software to do HIPAA-compliant automated data backup, restore and archiving.

Avaya, Basking Ridge, N.J., unveiled a voice-activated, Web-based appointment scheduling solution that lets patients use voice prompts or a Web browser to set appointments.