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Printer manufacturer Lexmark is branching out to create new business process management (BPM) software for health care and other industry verticals, such as education, financial services, government and retail.

The company plans to leverage the enterprise content management (ECM) capabilities of its stand-alone Perceptive Software unit and the BPM tools of Netherlands-based Pallas Athena to manage content throughout a hospital s workflow.

“We’re expanding the array of technologies and solutions that we bring to bear for our customers and help them manage all this unstructured content and processes that are in hospitals today–in the front line and back office,” Lexmark CEO Paul Rooke told eWEEK during a press briefing on Nov. 2. “They could use some help, particularly because they re trying to digitize and become more electronic.”

Lexmark announced its acquisition of Pallas Athena on Oct. 18. It will integrate the company with its Perceptive Software unit.

Lexmark s customers, particularly hospitals, are dealing with information silos in which data is locked into a combination of paper and computerized forms, as well as databases, John Moore, an analyst at Chilmark Research, told eWEEK.

Consequently, health care facilities need tools such as BPM to keep track of all their data–whether it s from the emergency room or the oncology department.

“How to tie all of those silos together and how to facilitate and automate various processes across the organization–that s where BPM comes in, and it s going to be increasingly critical,” Moore pointed out.

Other hardware vendors in the printer business, such as Dell and Hewlett-Packard, have found success on the software side by focusing on services rather than traditional software, according to Moore. “I have not seen many cases where a hardware-centric company has made the successful transition to owning, investing in and selling software,” he noted. “In the market today, it s very hard to find many examples where they’ve been able to do both very well.”

For Lexmark to make a successful transition in health care, it will need to allow Perceptive Software to continue to run independently, he said.

“People are looking at the opportunity in health care, and Lexmark is probably seeing the writing on the wall,” Moore said. “They’re only going to make so much money in the future on printers, and health care is one of those high-growth opportunities.”

To expand the company’s opportunity in the enterprise application field, Lexmark plans to leverage Pallas Athena’s experience in BPM in the life science, government and insurance areas to create new BPM products for health care.

To read the original eWeek article, click here: Lexmark Develops BPM Apps for Health Care