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A Chat With Siemens Medical Solutions' Janet Dillione

January 30, 2008
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As the leader of Siemens Medical Solutions' IT division, Janet Dillione says Web enablement and interoperability are the keys to future success.

Since July 2006, Janet Dillione has headed the Health Services division of Siemens Medical Solutions in Malvern, Pa. With Siemens since 2000, Dillione served as a group vice president of Global Financial Systems and senior vice president of U.S. Business Management. During her tenure, Siemens launched Soarian, a workflow-based healthcare IT system. Recently, HCI Senior Associate Editor Daphne Lawrence caught up with Dillione to talk about Siemens and the industry at large.

DL: What is it about Siemens that keeps you interested?

JD: Siemens has the DNA for innovation. We like to be leaders, we like to be first. We don’t have much fear for the unknown. We’re not afraid to fail, we’re more afraid not to try.

DL: I know you were key in developing the Soarian product. Why didn’t Siemens just build on Invision?

JD: Invision was an extremely successful product line at the time, but we started from the ground up to be Web-native and wrapped in a Web mask. The other reason was so we would have integrated workflow technology. That meant a new architecture — that’s what begot Soarian. It would make a great book someday. This was a once in a career opportunity.

DL: What’s happening with Soarian today?

JD: Globally, we recently put out Release 5; it’s a true global release for the product. We actually did our beta in Austria. There are now 50 implementations in the United States. It’s a release with a lot of function, and feedback has been very good. But again, that first global release with the beta in Europe was huge.

DL: But if I’m a CIO in the United States, what does that overseas success mean for me?

JD: I think if I’m a customer, what I care about from global is that we get to see global innovation no matter where it’s happening, especially from the clinical side. We have Soarian being evaluated in Europe, in Asia, in the United States. What we find is our customers like talking to global customers, ‘What’s your best practice?’ Surely our biggest brand customers like to know we’re global because they’re trying to take their brand to other parts of the world. There is no greater healthcare market right now than parts of the Middle East and Asia.

DL: What’s different about Soarian clinical overseas?

JD: We find that what varies is not the care process so much as the role of who does what. So physicians in Europe do very different tasks than physicians in the United States. They all encounter the patient, treat the patient, and roll them through evidence-based protocols in a pretty similar manner. You could argue that the United States has greater efficiencies in some areas. I could argue that Singapore has greater efficiencies in other areas.

DL: I saw that Soarian recently received CCHIT certification. How important do you think CCHIT certification is?

JD: I think it gives a certain stamp that will be required in the market. I think it implies scale and ability to manage complexity. It doesn’t necessarily say this system is better than another. It does say the vendor went to the effort to do it; therefore, it has the intention of being in the market for awhile with that product. And I think it lends a sense of credibility to outside observers. There’s rumor that one day it will be linked to reimbursement, but I’ll leave that to the political pundits.

DL: Where do you see the greatest area of growth in the years to come?

JD: Ten years ago, Siemens Medical began this march towards personalized medicine. In the last few years, we’ve become extremely strong in imaging technologies. We added IT to wrap around that because we need to push it to the doctors and nurses. And now we have to get the genomic around the patient — so in the last few years we’ve made the move into the diagnostics business. All of that is a staged march towards this horizon of personalized medicine, where your therapy will be personal to you, not the generic segment of the population that presents with those symptoms. All towards improving quality and reducing cost.

DL: Tell me more about your view of personalized medicine.

JD: If you had a world of personalized medicine, you’d be reducing tests, because most tests are ordered for rule out, rule out, rule out. Plus you also have the opportunity on the therapeutic side to say that a patient will not respond well to a medicine because of their genomic disposition.

DL: Is there any best practice that you’d like share?