Collaborations abound at HIMSS

At nearly every turn at HIMSS11 in Orlando, Fla., last week, it seemed as if companies were teaming up to produce various solutions geared toward improving patient care and lowering costs. Multiple tech heavyweights announced new partnerships and offerings dealing with health records, mobile healthcare and the cloud. Three collaborations of note included:

Dell and Microsoft: The former's cloud infrastructure will host Amalga--the latter's enterprise health intelligence platform--to provide quality indicator reporting at four Stellaris Health Network hospitals in Westchester, N.Y. According to a joint announcement, the Quality Indicator System "will capture data as a patient enters the hospital, determine which quality measures may apply to the patient, and then enable the hospital to track and measure compliance throughout the patient's stay."

More applications will be created that deal with turn-around time delays, care coordination and readmissions, among other issues, as additional health systems enter the fold.

According to Microsoft Health Solutions Corporate Vice President Peter Neupert, the ultimate goal is to give small and mid-sized hospitals access to quality data and IT expertise they otherwise might not have.

GE Healthcare and Cisco: The two tech giants joined forces to ramp up tracking and location technologies, with patient satisfaction and cost reduction as the desired result. GE's AgileTrac platform will stream both Wi-Fi and real-time location system technologies (RTLS), meaning hospitals get the best of both worlds in ensuring that patients, staff and equipment are in the right place at the right time.

The system has already been in use for three months at Richmond, Va.-based Bon Secours, and is set to roll out at a Florida-based HCA hospital, as well.

"It's a tough decision for hospitals to decide between Wi-Fi and RFID. There's about a 50-50 split," Kathy English, director of healthcare product solutions for Cisco, told FierceHealthIT. "What we're seeing is that the demand for both is happening in all of them.

"The bottom line is that it's easy to deploy, easy to maintain from an IT perspective, and the clinicians seem to love it because now they can see everything," she continued. "They have a much broader scope of what they're looking for, and in areas where you didn't have that capability in the past, like the OR, it's become extremely helpful in finding equipment."

Verizon Wireless and Zipit Wireless: South Carolina-based wireless device company Zipit announced the launch of a two-way paging system to be pushed out by Verizon Wireless that will operate on the latter's 3G network and Wi-Fi networks. One of the biggest selling points of the system, according to a joint announcement, is that users now will receive detailed status update messages both sent and received (send and delivery confirmation, as well as notification about whether a message sent has been read).

A cloud-based hosted environment allows for real-time updates and maintenance for devices.

"This new system allows rapid, verifiable communication between multiple parties and through multiple platforms, ensuring that doctors receive the urgent messages they require," Zipit Wireless CEO Frank Greer said, according to the announcement.

To learn more:
- here's the Dell-Microsoft announcement
- read the GE-Cisco press release
- check out the Verizon-Zipit announcement

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