Healthcare – it’s time for the channel to make a difference


Healthcare IT specialist expert

Peter Blythe, Solutions Development Manager at Avnet Technology Solutions UK

Recently, Gartner announced that it believed 2012 would be a year in which channel leaders would redefine how IT operates and how it is employed by enterprises. A strong IT system is essential for an innovative and amplified organisation. One market that is certainly developing its IT and technology services is the healthcare sector. Recent research indicates that the healthcare sector is willing to spend more and more of its budget on IT solutions and technology in order to improve patient care, as IT is used increasingly frequently to strengthen the customer experience, as well as drive operational automation and control.

This is a great opportunity for the channel as long as it delivers good value solutions, allowing clinicians and IT departments to improve patient care (which is of course of the utmost importance) and also achieve more with less. It seems that healthcare organisations are experiencing a record surge in unstructured data, whilst IT departments and clinical data centres are also struggling with the need to leverage the inherent value of clinical data through increased analytics while managing the many medical applications demanded by clinicians and regulators. One key aspect to understanding how data growth can spiral out of control is often evident in the way that hospitals and trusts are funded. e.g. A new medical scanner may be bought using the hospital trust charity budget, however the management and responsibility of the system is managed by the IT department, but the data is the responsibility of the radiography department.  This type of situation further exacerbates the uncontrolled data growth and leads to further inefficiencies.

Data is of course essential to any organisation, especially in the healthcare industry, now that everything has become digitalised and such high volumes of personal and valuable information are being managed on a daily basis. Recent NHS data showed that 17,000 British males were admitted to hospital between 2009 and 2012 for obstetric appointments (related to childbirth) – the official figures are available at Data management errors clearly need to be solved and reducing data input errors is a good starting point, as illustrated by the new University College Hospital Macmillan Cancer Centre in London, open since April of this year. The centre allows patients to check in at kiosks (like at the airport!) and technology such as a bar code permits automatic check-ins. To make the process even simpler for patients and reduce data errors, a listing of all future appointments will even appear on screen.

In addition, by bringing the clinical and patient data together with technologies like the Hitachi Clinical repository, clinicians are able to link all of a patient’s data together leading to a more accurate and efficient diagnosis.

I believe that there’s now a chance for the channel to deliver solutions to provide productive and easily accessible data, especially as patient data has to be held and lasts longer than the technology that runs it.

The increasing use of scanning equipment for diagnoses and treatments emphasises that the value of technology when dealing with patients is already clear to healthcare and clinicians. The aptly-named “Surgery by mouse” is becoming common place with technology providing the ability to carry out intricate keyhole surgery leading to improved recovery times.  However with the NHS facing the Nicholson Challenge to reduce spending by £20 billion in efficiency savings by 2015 and 4% savings year-on-year, the channel will need to prove that new solutions will save money and improve patient care. For a long time now healthcare organisations have understood the advantages of technology, so I can’t help but ask, is now the time for the IT channel to catch up and make a difference?

Posted under HealthPath

The trends and technologies of today’s storage market


IT Storage specialist

Carl Berry, Business Unit Director, Open Storage, Avnet Technology Solutions UK

Intelligent data storage is an integral part of a successful business; important aspects of data storage, such as where and how data is stored, need to be taken into consideration. Recently, the storage market has experienced a rather significant transformation. It is evident that the unmistakable sudden increase in unstructured data is predominantly driven by the explosion of mobile computing in recent years; the prevalence of social media, for example, has proven to be challenging in terms of storage.

The forefront of today’s storage market

At the moment I can identify three major trends which are clearly dominant in storage solutions – pre-validated data centre platforms, flash storage arrays and big data.

  • Data centre platform: First of all, let’s look at pre-validated data centre platforms and the opportunities they present. The most important aspect of any storage solution is how easy and efficient it is to use – channel partners must make sure that they present adaptable, effective solutions that incorporate storage components into a single, flexible architecture. This offers business partners a solution with both augmented efficiencies and reduced risk. Data centre platforms with pre-validated reference architectures which include server, storage, networking and hypervisor offer extensive opportunities for professional services.
  • Flash storage arrays: The popularity of flash storage is continuing to increase in the market. Data obviously needs protecting, but at the same time, performance needs to be maximised and restrictions need to be removed. The need for this has paved the way for technology which allows performance with scale in front of existing storage architecture whilst optimising connections. So as you can see, flash storage arrays offer a great opportunity for the channel; this is an area that I think business partners really need to come to terms with and make the most of.
  • Big data: As a storage solution, big data is not just about offering volume. It ultimately allows companies to engage with customers on a more personal level, which is obviously advantageous to the company itself, its customers and to channel partners. What’s more, big data allows businesses to benefit from the simple, straightforward retrieval and use of stored information.

Making the most of opportunities

The recent impressive increase in data in the mid-market continues to improve revenue opportunities in the storage sector, such as the need for cloud-based application delivery and business analytics. Nowadays data storage solutions do not just play an important role for specialists – there is a much greater assortment of capabilities and comprehension levels from more and more channel partners. Not only this, but it has become increasingly clear that it is business requirements rather than technology lifecycles that drive storage solution sales.

Despite this, it’s important to realise that although there are now greater revenue prospects for business partners, specific training and skills are required to make the most of these new opportunities. Working with an experienced partner in this field can mean partners can get the training that’s right for them and that’s tailored to the storage market. This is essential in helping business partners to get to grips with the basics of data storage and the appropriate jargon that undeniably comes with it. Without a certain level of knowledge and training, new prospects will be missed and business partners will miss out on beneficial opportunities which could have been advantageous.

Posted under IT infrastructure, Storage