I recently had the opportunity to participate in a day-long strategy session with a small group of Healthcare CIO’s and CTO’s at the legendary Xerox PARC (Palo Alto Research Center) campus in Palo Alto. It’s funny, – although PARC is located directly across the street from VMware’s corporate Headquarters I had never visited the facility. Steeped in rich technology history the PARC campus hallways speak volumes of the remarkable innovation that has taken place there. (Ethernet, Laser Printing, GUI, Object-Oriented programming, etc.) These ideas that may have seemed insignificant at the time but bravely challenged the currently thinking and status quo. With that backdrop, the folks at Xerox/ACS walked the group through some quite ingenious ideas and solutions. Leading the discussion was Markus Fromherz ACS’s CIO; CIO as in Chief Innovation Officer.
Two discussion topics struck a chord with me. One was around an innovative solution and service to help accelerate the adoption of new applications within the provider market. The Breakaway Group (acquired in 2011) helps hospitals simulate new EMR systems. It is web based and provides a hospital model how their particular system and staff will use the application(s), thus enabling the hospital and its staff to work and model in a virtual system prior to implementation. Definitely worth checking out:
The other topic was more of a theme: A reoccurring group acknowledgement regarding the reliability and criticality of IT systems in a world that is increasingly less dependent on paper.” …paper was our high availability solution…one CIO stated…it was always there even when the power was out…” The group talked about how even after some workflows had been “digitized” that certain groups actually held onto and snuck paper back into the process. This provided them a false sense of security and ultimately redirecting resources and attention away from properly fortifying IT systems.
I was encouraged to hear that many had discovered the resiliency that virtualization can provide. Initial skepticism regarding virtualizing critical clinical applications has turned into standard operations for most of the attendees. Although most of the leading Healthcare application vendors now support (ship/resell) their systems on VMware, a few attendees expressed frustration with their some of their smaller “mom and pop” application vendors support for virtualization. In a future blog I will talk about how are we enable this ecosystem of critical niche application vendors to validate their applications on our platform.