Health care IT is one of the only markets that continue to grow in the
current economic downturn. Dimension Data is one value-added reseller enjoying
substantial success in the health care sector by building out its customer base
and capitalizing on its history and vertical expertise. Channel Insider sat
down with Wesley Johnston, executive vice president and chief operating officer
of Dimension Data Americas, to hear what the major trends in health care IT are
and to get a glimpse of what has made Dimension Data so successful.
CI: How big a percentage of your business is your health care
Johnston: Health care
is today our second largest vertical business and growing the most rapidly.
CI: What are the key factors driving growth in the health care market
when other sectors continue to struggle?
are a number of factors at play here. For one, we’re seeing growth
opportunities stem from health care’s sheer size as an industry—with U.S.
health spending approaching 20 percent of our GDP.
The availability of federal stimulus funding, of course, is also playing a key
role in jump-starting projects and spurring job creation. On the IT side, we’re
seeing that health care, by virtue of being a transaction-based business,
continues to be a growing market for us. A single event, such as a hospital
visit, spawns numerous transactions and touch points—often involving tests,
follow-ups, multiple providers, personnel, insurance claims, etc.—and
opportunities for improvement in processes—with a perceived vision, or end
state, that can be achieved by IT. The enormous political focus on boosting
health care efficiency as a means of driving down costs also underscores the
increasingly important role technology vendors and solutions providers will
play in bringing about these improvements.
CI: Being a networking and communications provider, you have a
definitive horizontal solution to offer. How do you ensure you have a vertical
health care story to tell, too?
video and data convergence over a common IP fabric is increasingly a
requirement for health care providers—as a growing number of specialized
devices need to connect, with seamless interoperability, to the network and
scale to support future equipment and enhancements. This has always been one of
Dimension Data’s core strengths. But for solutions providers, a solid track
record isn’t enough, and to have a true vertical play, we need to demonstrate
the relevance of our IT solutions to specialized health care business processes—showing,
quantifiably, how these solutions fulfill needs unique to the market. Simply
discussing the tech behind wireless location services for IP-enabled devices
isn’t enough; it’s important to demonstrate—and we do—how the services can help
you immediately pinpoint, for example, a mobile MRI
on-demand in a crowded hospital. Clients immediately realize the time and cost
CI: What do you think are the key enabling technologies that will be
adopted within the health care sector in 2010? Why?
Johnston: The convergence of voice, video and data will continue to
accelerate—enabling improvements and, as I mentioned, supporting a growing
array of specialized, IP-enabled devices within health care facilities. We’re
also going to see more and more health care organizations expand their network
to support a broad range of mobility solutions, enabling instantaneous data
access anytime, anywhere. In addition, adoption of technologies that facilitate
electronic patient record keeping, archiving and security will be on the rise.
All of this will ultimately improve the patient care experience and increase
CI: Are there any challenges you face when it comes to selling into
health care? Are those challenges different than in other sectors?
Johnston: When selling
into health care, it’s very important that we translate all discussions around
IT and business to "patient care" relevance. Our health care clients
are focused on the health of their patients; consequently, any technology
discussion needs to emphasize how the solution can promote wellness and/or
speed up and improve the healing process. In addition, our hospital
clients need to constantly watch the bottom line because the patient must
receive the best possible health care often regardless of costs to the
hospital; therefore, they must carefully consider TCO,
ROI and feature vs. cost benefit. Yet another challenge is that the
infrastructure in a hospital is often outdated; Ethernet cable is not always
available to all rooms and key areas, so wireless becomes a requirement to add
new technologies. Lastly, downtime for a health care client could literally be
a life-and-death situation, so solutions providers need the resources and
expertise to be able to work within tight deadlines—Dimension Data is able to
do just that.
CI: Why do you think Dimension Data is well-positioned to take advantage
of the health care sector? What are other key areas of growth for you in 2010?
Dimension Data has been working in the health care space for decades; our solutions
span hospitals, pharmaceuticals and medical providers. One key reason for our
success in this sector is our integration expertise. Our health care clients
often partner with many specialized vendors depending on department and
functional needs. Dimension Data is uniquely positioned to meet a specific
organizational need with a targeted solution if that is the requirement, while
making sure that the solution is flexible and scales to work with the entire
hospital infrastructure. In addition, our network integration background
enables us to address bandwidth issues when the facility is looking at IP
telephony and visual communications. Another key reason is our global
experience. Even though many health care organizations are not global,
Dimension Data, as a global solutions provider, has the ability to understand
what is working in other parts of the world and share those successes with our
local clients. Other key sectors for Dimension Data Americas in 2010 include
financial services, state and local government, and education.