Innovation, Just What the Telepresence Doctor OrderedBy Lawrence Walsh | Print
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Technology can do more than cut costs. As one medical solution provider demonstrates, solution providers have the potential of delivering systems that increase revenues for their customers.
Dr. Glenn Hammack isn’t your typical optometrist. He can see over the horizon to treat the ill and infirm around the world.
OK, he’s not magical or a "Heroes" cast member. Hammack is a telemedicine specialist. His company—NuPhysicia—builds, supports and services telepresence systems that enable physicians to treat patients in remotes parts of the globe and enables people to access world-class medical specialists from anywhere.
NuPhysicia’s systems, built on a Polycom telepresence and unified communications platform, is found in diverse locations. Its systems are delivering routine and emergency health care to roughnecks on offshore oil rigs to convicts inside prison walls to employees at corporate health clinics to tourists at remote resorts. NuPhysicia is even installing its systems in Walmart’s emerging health care clinics, so suburbanites and rural residents don’t have to schlep into urban medical centers.
Cheap bandwidth and reliable connectivity around the world is making telepresence possible for a variety of uses ranging from medicine to business conferences to routine meetings between partners. Companies are adopting telepresence and unified communications technologies to expand their business potential and decrease costs. "People have definitely globalized. They want to reduce travel and the productivity losses, and they want to increase the productivity of their teams," Polycom CEO Bob Haggarty tells Channel Insider.
Over the past couple of years, telepresence has been billed as means for reducing high travel costs, which have done nothing but rise with the price of oil and airfares. Polycom, Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard are among the leaders that have brought these video conferencing and telepresence systems to market on the promise of controlling costs. And even though oil prices are retreating to sub-$100 levels, telepresense may still be a reasonable cost-cutting technology.
Companies like NuPhysicia are showing that technology and solutions don’t have to be always about saving money. True enough, NuPhysicia technology saves its customers money by removing the burden of staffing remote locations—such as an offshore oil rig or a prison facility—with expensive physicians. And companies using the NuPhysicia technology can save health care costs with preventative medicine delivered remotely in their offices. Cost reductions are always a value, especially in tough economic times when every dollar counts.
However, solution providers should follow the lead of NuPhysicia in developing packages and services that translate into new revenue opportunities for their customers. In the case of Walmart, NuPhysicia’s solutions enable the retailer to dive headlong into the health care delivery business without having to staff their superstores with expensive physicians. Instead, one doctor can service hundreds of patients and different locations through telepresence.
Yes, telepresence is a hot, flashy technology that is highly extensible to multiple business uses that solution providers can develop and deliver. But the principles of NuPhysicia and other innovative solution providers have pioneered in delivering opportunities to their customers. Everyone from desktop and networking VARs to storage and managed service providers can develop solutions and package systems that have increasing and returning value to their customers.
When Channel Insider recently asked solution providers what their path to growth was for the second half of 2008, they overwhelmingly said they would grow by adding new customers. If that’s the case, solution providers should build systems that will result in their customers being able to add new customers, too.
The rationale for pushing the limits of technology and business innovations is clear: if solution providers are able to help their customers add customers, they will realize a return and recurring value in the form of revenue. And isn’t cold, hard cash what we all want in this economic downturn?
Lawrence M. Walsh is vice president and group publisher of Channel Insider. Share your stories of innovations and success with him at email@example.com.