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Is Total Access a Good Vendor Strategy?

February 24, 2011
by Mark Hagland
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I spoke with Dell's Jamie Coffin just before flying off to Orlando for HIMSS. The Round Rock, Tex.-based company was preparing to make a series of announcements this Monday, and Dell’s media relations folks wanted to make sure we would pay attention.

It is always very interesting to speak with healthcare chief Jamie Coffin, someone who one could definitely describe as a man in a hurry. Just in the past few years under his management, Dell has merged with Perot Systems, acquired a bunch of smaller companies outright, and has moved very aggressively to reposition itself in healthcare—and more broadly—as "not just a PC manufacturer." In line with the strategy the company has been building in the past two years, then, are the announcements of new or enhanced services in healthcare. Among these: its new Unified Clinical Archiving solution, available through the private cloud, because of the company's acquisition of cloud provider InSiteOne. A particular emphasis in the company's press release Monday was on the ability for patient care organizations to overcome some of the barriers to image-sharing. Other new or enhanced services: analytics and reporting as a service; platform as-a-service; and, a continuation of EMR-as-a-service.

Coffin clearly understands that "It's not about selling PCs anymore." Certainly, the intense saturation of the consumer PC market helped motivate Coffin and other Dell execs further forward into healthcare and into services a few years ago. Coffin's ambition is for the healthcare industry to see Dell as uniquely positioned to connect hospitals and their affiliated physicians together quickly and efficiently, though in broad, industry-wide terms, their footprint is still relatively small, with 20 hospital systems and 40,000 physicians signed up for Dell's affiliated-physicians program (which facilitates hospitals' support for helping their affiliated doctors to implement EMRs).

But Coffin remains supremely confident that Dell is uniquely positioned to deliver certain kinds of services agnostically and successfully in this industry. "Obviously, I think I see us that way," he told me. "Our position in the provider sphere right now is pretty much unmatched. And the advantage to that is that we can focus on improving our services to customers."

Only time will tell how successful all this will be. But there certainly isn’t a lack of strategic vision on Coffin's part.