Inside Advanced Scale Challenges|Wednesday, April 25, 2018
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Healthcare Cloud Platform Aimed at Cutting Costs, Aiding Digital Transformation 

Billionaire investor Warren Buffet made a media splash last week with statements concerning continually rising healthcare costs in the United States, including:

"If you talk about the world competitiveness of American industry, (health costs are) the biggest single variable where we keep getting more and more out of whack with the rest of the world.”

Advanced scale technologies are being engineered to attack the problem, including “industry clouds,” such as one recently announced by Partners Healthcare and Persistent Systems. Now Virtustream is applying its experience in the enterprise-class cloud industry to the healthcare market. Its offering delivers cloud-based hosting of mission critical healthcare platforms and applications on Virtustream Enterprise Cloud in a HIPAA/HITECH compliant environment.

Virtustream Healthcare Cloud is aimed at helping providers undergoing digital transformation by expanding their use of electronic medical record (EMR) systems (such as Epic and Cerner) and integrating them with patient engagement systems and analytical precision medicine platforms. Simultaneously, it’s meant to lower the costs and complexities for organizations that would otherwise maintain and manage IT on their own.

The company claims its managed services will deliver infrastructure availability SLAs of up to 99.999 percent, and said the service can be deployed in public cloud environments with a complementary set of on and off premises managed services.

Michael Hoch, Virtustream vice president, told EnterpriseTech at Dell EMC World this week that the new platform is a “building block” for greater healthcare provider efficiencies, and that it can deliver TCO savings of between 20 and 30 percent over traditional healthcare IT infrastructures.

The cloud platform includes Virtustream EMR Service for several widely used electronic medical record packages and optional managed services for technical management of the EMR application suite’s infrastructure, database, application delivery and data interfaces. It joins the more than 700 healthcare and non-healthcare applications (ERP, workforce management, Sharepoint, etc.) that Virtustream said its enterprise cloud platform already supports.

“We’re taking that same (Virtustream) technology platform for enterprises and the federal government and we’re turning it toward healthcare…, focused on the electronic medical record systems and all the surrounding systems that need the same kind of high availability, high security and compliance,” he said. “Healthcare is looking to modernize their infrastructures, to add digital components to traditional paper systems, it’s all of those systems that have been there for years if not decades. They’re looking for opex-friendly models that still meet their compliance requirements.”

Besides EMRs, Virtustream Healthcare Cloud is designed to manage ERP systems; workforce management systems; precision medicine platforms; picture archive and communication systems (PACS), along with other health IT systems. Virtustream said the platform supports HIPAA and HITECH compliance and delivers “layered” security to protect sensitive patient health information. It also provides consumption-based pricing and in-region hosting to meet country-specific data residency requirements in all of Virtustream’s global locations.

Hoch said patient engagement systems, which can be integrated with the Virtustream Healthcare Cloud, address a major source of high healthcare costs: patients failing to take medicine as they’ve been directed.

“Protocols are established during FDA trials,” he said, “and if you take the medication in the right dose at the right time, and then report the results to your doctor, you can have a better outcome. But that’s not necessarily what happens. Patients tend not to adhere to the plan. We’re doing some prototype platforms with some partners to improve patient health, decrease the cost of care and increase knowledge that clinicians have available to them.”

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