14 Apr Patrick Boyle of IBM on cloud computing and medical imaging systems
Editor’s note: Last week during the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMMS 09), IBM Healthcare Industry Group launched a new cloud computing based medical imaging data management solution in partnership with In Site One. WTN News had the opportunity to interview Patrick Boyle, vice president of solution sales for health care and life sciences and IBM Global Services. Boyle discussed with WTN NEWS his views of this strategic relationship and the costs and strategic concerns for imaging data management among CIO, CEO and healthcare IT professionals.
Mike Klein (WTN NEWS): Can you please tell me a little bit about InSite One, where are they based and why they are of significance to IBM as a partner?
Patrick Boyle (PB): They are based in Wallingford, Connecticut. InSite One is a service provider for medical imaging data management services. They will go to a hospital customer and rather than the customers having to buy a bunch of computer hardware, put it in their data center, and then have to manage the massive terabytes of medical images.
Insite One provides a secured connection over the internet, where you can store all of your medical imaging data at an Insite One site and IBM will co-manage it. Hospitals will discover there are significant cost advantages as well as improvements in quality healthcare delivery.
There are a couple of aspects of significance to this partnership. First of all, InSite One will be running their software services on IBM Infrastructure, namely our computer server and storage technologies. In addition to that, we will be collaborating and co-selling this solution in the market place. We think it is a pretty important one especially right now in this particular market place. We are hearing from CIOs, radiologists and others familiar with the business that the cost and complexity of storage management of medical images has been exploding over the past several years. It has reached the point that our customers are finding it enormously difficult to not only manage the cost associated with medical imaging, but also manage the exposure from a clinical standpoint on the exploding volumes of data. So when you combine that with a financial market right now where there is extreme sensitivity to the price points on the types and solutions in this area, a managed service offering from IBM and from InSite One is particularly attractive to address those kinds of concerns in the market.
WTN: Is the InSite One platform independent in the picture archiving and communications system market? (PACS)
PB: They are platform independent from a standpoint of their support of the digital imaging and communications in medicine (DICOM) standard. So, they are a 100% capable of storing medical imaging data from any PACS vendor that supports the DICOM standard.
WTN: So how is this different from your relationship with TeraMedica?
PB: TeraMedica is in a related marketplace, but not the same as InSite One. IBM has a business relationship with TeraMedica as an IBM business partner. To a certain extent there is a need for distinction between the two types of companies.
WTN: It appears that the big difference is that a company like TeraMedica, typically sells their software to the hospital directly or they partner with value added resellers who integrate hardware, software and the image management solution. Whereas, InSite One claims it will give better payment terms, a pipe to connect to over the Internet and access to the InSite One IBM managed services. And all you need to do is plug your PACS through your domain to this pipe and IBM and InSite One will outsource your managing of all your medical imaging data.
PB: Yes it does.
WTN: I imagine IBM is very aggressively talking with Kaiser Pernamente in regard to their plans for a new imaging strategy.
PB: I can’t speak directly to the relationship around Kaiser. What I can speak to you are, issues that organizations like Kaiser and other large hospitals are facing now in terms of image management.
I read your interview on WTN News with Phil Fasano, the SVP and CIO of Kaiser Permanente, and the problems that they deal with in the medical imaging space, data storage is growing at an astronomical rate, every single day there is a new technology introduced in imaging that is not reducing the size of the images, it’s producing exponentially more images and the images are going up in size. So organizations like Kaiser, or any of these large size providers are challenged at the current rate and growing need for mass storage, access and management and that is becoming more of challenge everyday.
There is another even much more important issue than that. Because of the way the data is used in the clinical setting, its one thing to store it, its another thing to make sure that it is backed up, that it is safely secured from the outside world. That the data will be stored for multiple years becomes a big people management issue of how do you take care of all that data and make sure that its safe and available over a period of time? So a large hospital says, “I am in the business of taking care of patients here. I’m not in the business of specializing and managing data storage.” So they look to a company like an IBM and the InSite One partnership and say, “IBM, and Insite One take this out of my hands. Do it for me in a standards based space way so that I’m not locked into any one technology and you guys who are the experts in this field, take it over, reduce my cost and what we concentrate on what I do best which is taking care of patients.” Whether it’s a Kaiser or any other institution of that size, well that’s the type of problem we want to solve.
WTN News: So this is software as a service (SaaS) via cloud computing?
PB: Yes absolutely! That is what it is.
WTN News: Is there a development platform as platform as a service (PaaS) as well?
PB: Absolutely, because InSite One has developed that software. It is the asset at the core of the data and management solution.
WTN News: Patrick what is your specific involvement with this partnership and with IBM healthcare?
PB: I work within IBM skills organization where my team owns the overall relationships with our large health care customers. My team is responsible for working with the customer to understand their business in clinical problems and then applying everything that IBM does including what we do with our partners like Insite One to solve those problems. So that’s my role on the IBM team. I was actively engaged in the creation of the relationship with InSite One and then myself and my teams are actively engaged in bringing these solutions to our customers to help solve their problems.
Partnering is critical to IBM’s business whether it is health care or any other industry. It’s absolutely a priority for us to work with innovative companies like InSite One that meet the overall needs.
I would say to you that is the one thing that is additionally very important on the subject of cloud computing. There are a lot of reasons why cloud computing is an important concept when it gets back to the things I was talking about like providing a more complete managed solution where as in the customer investing in the resources that are not core to their business. If you add that to this current economic environment and here challenges on capital expense forces operating expense, I think it becomes an even more important concept that customers are taking a look to help them to reduce cost and improve clinical quality.