HP Continues Push into Health Care Market

The successful company addresses needs specific to health care IT with its grid-based Medical Archiving Solution and a Forms Automation System with unique digital pen and paper technology.

To further solidify its presence in the lucrative health care market, Hewlett-Packard has announced a new medical archiving solution and upgraded its year-old forms automation system.

The HP Medical Archiving Solution manages data such as MRIs, CT Scans, digital x-rays, mammograms and PACS (Picture Archiving and Communications Systems) across various tiers of storage. The goal, said Jeff Miller, vice president of health and education industries at Hewlett-Packard Co., is to allow health care professionals the ability to access various types of health care information via streaming technology.

The grid-based system also allows health care organizations to add additional storage as needs grow, without downtime.

"If you were implementing on a SATA-based storage device and down the road you want to switch to a new set of technologies, you can get the new device up quickly and the grid will take care of transferring the data to the new device in the background," Miller explained. "Its very different from the transitions people go through today when they want to make wholesale technology moves from one platform to another."

And because its installed underneath an organizations existing archiving system, "It doesnt require you to rip out your existing investment, so it accentuates what you have already invested in terms of a PACS solution," Miller said.

The HP Forms Automation System 1.2 is a follow-up to the original forms automation system, first piloted last year at the Cherokee Indian Health Authority in Cherokee, N.C. The system helps improve accuracy and efficiency of health care professionals notations on medical charts and prescription pads.

One of the most unique features of the system is the digital pen and paper technology, which uses special coding as clinicians write on special paper. That technology captures the place on the form where the information was entered and what data is entered, and, in some cases, will translate the data immediately to structured digital data.

The system can be much faster and more cost-effective than paper-based information. Keypunching a clinical form generally costs about $1.25, versus 25 to 30 cents with the forms system.

"And because we get the information into the system faster, we can begin to provide feedback to the clinicians in terms of alerts for drug interactions and automated scheduling of follow-ups—things that may not have been done until two or three days later if you were keying it in manually," Miller said.

/zimages/3/28571.gifClick here to read more about the use of digital pen technology in the health care field.

The digital pen and paper technology will appeal greatly to health care professionals, said Scott Tiazkun, program manager of health care IT at IDC of Framingham, Mass.

"Doctors and nurses have always done things their own way and with digital pen and paper, the technology takes care of it and they dont have to change what they are doing," he said.

"It gets the information into a usable form and into a database where other people can access it and understand what the doctor wrote."

More important than either products specific functions, however, is the fact that Hewlett-Packard is behind those products, Tiazkun said.

"There may have been other smaller players that have offered products like these, but they dont have the cachet of HP," he said. "Because health care IT is a tough market to crack, it takes a company with the muscle, prominence or marketing force of an HP."

As time progresses and HP gains more expertise in the health care arena, Tiazkun expects the company to gain a greater understanding of the markets needs, enabling it to match its functional capabilities even better to the IT needs of medical facilities.

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