Dimension Data on Stump for Health Care Customers

By Leah Gabriel Nurik

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 practice?

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? 

Johnston: There 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? 

Johnston: Voice, 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 savings accrued.
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 efficiencies.

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?

Johnston: 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.

This article was originally published on 2010-01-29