Guerra On Healthcare: Vendors Vie For Platform Space
Vendors duke it out at HIMSS conference in bid to provide the healthcare platform that everyone wants.
A journalist's job is to listen for trends, sift through the noise, and find the kernel of importance in a speech, trial, or presentation. It's a skill that comes over time, after many mistakes and, for me, after getting many a lead ripped to shreds by my journalism professors.
I think I've gotten the hang of it over the years. For example, as I sat through the presentation of Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's (HIMSS's) 21st Annual Leadership Survey during the conference, I was drawn immediately to the findings around security threats--hopefully because these were the most salient points for my readers, but perhaps because security threats are what interested me at that time. If you're going to do this job, you must have confidence in your intuition.
When it came to the speech by the National Coordinator for Health IT, Dr. David Blumenthal, my gut told me the story was about his office moving from a policy-making to the implementation of new health IT policies, thus that element made it into the lead. Considering his speech was 40 minutes, it wasn't hard to sift through that limited amount of information and find the right nugget.
But processing more than four days of information, which came at me full speed from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., was a bit of a chore, one requiring me to harness all my past experience. Fortunately, it didn't take long. Throughout the week, vendors repeatedly told me two things: They thought healthcare IT had to start working like the iPhone, which functions as a platform for others to build applications on; and they most desperately wanted to be that platform.
Though I was confident I had identified the main takeaway of the conference correctly, I wanted some assurance, some tangible evidence it wasn't all in my head. So I dropped by the Deleted Folder in my email and did a keyword search for "platform and HIMSS." What I saw left no doubt about the most important trend at HIMSS10 — it was all Apples and platforms.
Verizon Launches IT Platform
Hospira MedNet safety software platform
GE Healthcare Launches Next-Generation eHealth Platform
HealthVault--a security-enhanced, Web-based data storage platform
The RemedyMD Mosaic platform
Fujitsu's Med-Serv 50 patient registration kiosk, an open hardware platform
MEDecision's Alineo, a collaborative healthcare management platform
The next killer app? Who cares--that's so 2005. Many have realized it's a lot easier to remove a second story room than the basement. The platform is embedded, secure, and stable. In addition, adopting the iPhone model means leveraging the "community" to write applications on top of your platform (you don't pay them, mind you), thus enhancing the value of your platform.
Will this strategy work for most of these vendors? Of course not. Will it work for some? Sure. In business, you can't fake it forever, and marketing copy can only get your foot in the door. For my CIO readers, these are times to inspect the merchandise carefully, kick the tires, and have a good lawyer looking over the contract. The worst-case scenario is putting in a platform that's unworthy of the title, because without a sound foundation, calamity is only a matter of time.