Dell Intros Cloud Services For Healthcare Providers

Subscription-based services will help physicians and hospitals use private clouds to organize and access medical data.
Dell has announced a series of cloud-based services that will make it easier for healthcare providers to access and share patient information stored in electronic health records and picture archiving and communications systems.

The private cloud services, which were rolled out Monday at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2011 conference in Orlando, mark the next phase in Dell's strategy to help healthcare providers manage information in data centers, physicians' offices and other points of care. The subscription-based services will help physicians and hospitals organize medical records while freeing them from having to procure the technology and services to manage medical data.

Dell has been very focused on "the explosion of data that is happening inside of healthcare organizations," and helping them handle it in the most efficient way, Jamie Coffin, VP of Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences, told InformationWeek in a interview.

The new cloud services reflects Dell's quest to transform its business strategy from being a provider of hardware to a company that offers a full range of products and services to the healthcare sector, Coffin said. To do this, the company has hired 300 clinicians, doctors and nurses who work with healthcare customers to assess their business problems, he said.

Among the cloud-based services Dell announced are:

  • Archiving As A Service: Dell's Unified Clinical Archiving software uses medical image archiving technology that Dell recently acquired from InSite One. The InSite One technology lets healthcare providers store information in a vendor neutral archive, enabling them to overcome the silos created when hospitals and hospital networks use multiple clinical applications. Dell's data migration services also simplify the transition to a private cloud for healthcare organizations and its recovery and backup service manages security that supports HIPAA compliance and provides Protected Health Information protection.

  • Analytics And Reporting As A Service: Dell unveiled plans to provide a subscription-based analytics, informatics and business intelligence tool that will provide hospitals with a consolidated view of patient information. The service, which will be available later this year, combines Microsoft Amalga, a platform that retrieves and displays patient information from many sources, with Dell's cloud infrastructure.

The service provides hospitals with a quality indicator system that goes beyond what the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) requires. The system tracks and evaluates compliance against quality measures throughout a patient’s hospital stay. It also creates quality-of-care information required by CMS for maximum reimbursement. The offering marks the first time the Microsoft Amalga platform will be available as a service.

  • Platform As A Service: Dell's MSite service, which is currently available, gives hospitals using the Meditech healthcare information system software access to it through the cloud. With MSite, Dell hosts Meditech applications in a private cloud and provides technical and application support, maintenance and disaster recovery.

Dell also said it's collaborating with Meditech to develop a virtual desktop product for Meditech hospitals known as Mobile Clinical Computing for Meditech. The virtual desktop, available today, reduces PC management costs, provides for full single sign-on and session mobility, and eliminates the need for local storage.

  • EMR As A Service: Dell's private cloud hosts EMR and practice management software for more than 40,000 clinicians as a part of its integrated EMR for hospital-affiliated and employed physicians.

"What we're really trying to do is find a way to build secure and private clouds for our customers that enables us to deliver both applications and services across the cloud and that also takes into account the kind of security and privacy issues that hospitals have to worry about in healthcare such as HIPAA compliance," Coffin said.

Dell also said its cloud services will incorporate security technology developed by SecureWorks, which the vendor recently acquired. The Dell cloud portfolio also includes cloud consulting services, software as a service, infrastructure as a service, and servers and storage optimized for the cloud.

John Halamka, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess and a member of the Dell Healthcare and Life Sciences Advisory Board, said in a statement that every medical professional and medical facility can benefit from cloud computing because it puts the emphasis where it should be--using information to care for patients and improve the way hospitals care for them.

"Small practices want to care for patients, not manage servers," Halamka said. "The cloud empowers clinicians with low-cost, high-reliability solutions, enabling doctors to focus on the patient and not on the hardware in their office."

Need help sorting one electronic health record vendor's pitch from the next? Get the new issue of InformationWeek Healthcare. Download it now.

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