Dell health care FAIL

Dell health care FAIL

Summary: Dell is a hardware company and a system integrator. But what hospitals and clinics are looking for are software-based systems they can learn to use quickly if they're to soak up that sweet, sweet stimulus cash.


Larry Dignan reports that Dell is targeting health care markets with its new Streak tablet.

It's part of a new Web site filled with buzzwords like meaningful use, EMR, and healthcare CIO.

The pitch is focused on hospitals that want to push their own Electronic Medical Record (that's what EMR stands for) systems onto smaller practices. There is also a page on something hospitals really like, scaled WiFi systems.

Unfortunately there is one word for all this, and it's part of this Liquidsilver piece on a recent Dell laptop. (They have a larger version of this picture.)

The word is FAIL.

Here is why:

  • This is way too late to start talking about meaningful use. The deadline to start proving it comes in about two weeks. You should have been here a year ago, or more, if you were going to be in the room for such a bet-the-company decision.
  • You're not a brand in this market. And you're not associating yourself, publicly, with any brands health IT guys actually do know.
  • Oh, it's not health care CIO. It's CMIO -- chief medical information officer. The CIO of a hospital may deal with administrative stuff, but the people on the floor consider him (or her) a monkey with a wrench.

Dell wants to portray itself as a hero of the stimulus. It's in the position of many Republican Congresscritters who sent out press releases praising a bill they all voted against. A sale is a bigger commitment than a vote, by the way, so throwing some marketing on top of this won't make the hurt go away.

Dell is a hardware company and a system integrator. But what hospitals and clinics are looking for are software-based systems they can learn to use quickly if they're to soak up that sweet, sweet stimulus cash.

If hope exists at this late date, it exists through associating yourself with brands these guys do care about. Big iron software outfits like Cerner, NextGen, even Microsoft (remember them?). SaaS outfits like Allscripts and AthenaHealth, which despite the fact they serve the cloud do have a client hardware component.

Had Dell spread brands like this on its Web site -- alongside GE, Siemens, McKesson or Practice Fusion -- then they might have something happening. Their Dell Systems unit (formerly Perot, which unlike Dell is a name to conjure with) could have turned all these parts into systems that worked.

But what I see is marketing covering up the fact Dell did not do its homework. And you know what you get when you don't do your homework?


UPDATE: When Dell bought Perot a year ago, the latter company was said to have over 1,000 hospital customers worldwide, according to IDC. The American Hospital Association estimated there were 5,815 hospitals across the U.S. at the end of 2008.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Dell, Health, Legal

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Dell health care FAIL

    I just looked up that product page of the Streak. Wow, 549 dollars ? That's a few bucks more than the iPad. And the accessories are also a bit on the expensive side. So factoring cost may add to the fail of this product placement in the health care industry.
  • Dell Kin

    Sounds a bit desperate, (maybe killed like the Kin if its not selling).

    Glenn Beck = George Bush2
    • RE: Dell health care FAIL

      @guihombre Actually I was thinking Michael Dell should have called Jonathan Bush long ago. Bush is, I believe, a son of Neil, cousin of GW, nephew of GHB. And he runs AthenaHealth, one of the largest SaaS companies.

      His insight into the market could have been invaluable. But it seems no one in the health IT market was consulted.
  • Seeking Insight assumes planning

    Betcha it went down like this:

    Dell: "The Streak isn't selling to mainstream buyers"
    Bob of Marketing: "It's too expensive, perhaps we can find a niche that doesn't care about price"
    Hank of Marketing: "Well I came from the hospital and my bill was more than my annual salary!"
    Bob: "Bing! I have an idea, we could sell it to them as sort sort of health improvement medical thing, you know how doctors in films carry clipboards? Well how about 'streak-boards', we'll rename them 'medi-streaks'... I can see it now "Track your medi-CINE with a medi-STREAK".

    Hank: "I like the insight you have into that market Bob!"

    Yep, I bet that about the level of thought that went into that.
    • Lot of pointy headed bosses at Dell

      @guihombre I'm afraid you're right and it's a shame. At least they could have appointed a corporate CMIO, and not used the phrase "health care CIO." That one doesn't pass the laugh test.
  • RE: Dell health care FAIL

    This article has many false facts. First being that the deadline to receive full reimbursement for Meaningful Use is not until Oct of 2013. Second being that healthcare CIO is correct. Most hospitals only have a CIO. Larger healthcare organizations have a CIO and a CMIO. There is a large difference between the two. Mainly being that a CMIO is a doctor and leads the clinical aspects of IT. The CIO has a more technical role covering the entire hospital IT system. Third, DELL being mainly a hardware provider, associates itself with many EMR providers that do not provide their own hardware.
    • RE: Dell health care FAIL

      @allaboutIT Meaningful use is about the actual use of gear in changing medical practice, so a CMIO is appropriate.

      Your October 2013 deadline is about collecting the money for 2011, not qualifying for it, and you have to qualify before you collect.

      I just looked at what Dell did through the eyes of hospital and clinic customers I've talked to for four years on behalf of this blog.
      • RE: Dell health care FAIL

        @DanaBlankenhorn You need to prove the you are "meaningful use compliant" for atleast 90 days prior to end of FY 2013 in order to receive the full amount of money. You can do as soon as 2011 but you wouldn't receive any additional money, you just get is sooner. Meaningful use is about putting software to meaningful use, not sure what you mean by gear.

        I do agree they are making a last minute effort to jump in the software side of MU. But who isn't, haha.
  • You're confused

    It seems like mis-directed anger that you have. Who do you think works with Siemens, GE and McKesson? You have no idea of what you're talking about.
    • RE: Dell health care FAIL

      @redstateidiot If Dell is working with these other vendors they need to make that clear. They are not. Or (better yet) they need to be marketing more explicitly to those companies in order to win their endorsements.
  • RE: Dell health care FAIL

    A truly bizzarre blog. Buzzwords? Hardly. EMR, MU and healthcare CIO's are what provides the best chance for successful IT in healthcare. Dell not a brand in healthcare? Did you talk to anyone in healthcare? Dell has a huge presence, initially in hardware, more recently in integrating hospitals and practices. And everyone in this business knows that software solutions are useless without hardware and integration, and commercial clinical software vendors typically do neither. Your characterization of the CIO/CMIO relationship confirms that you apparently haven't talked with very many healthcare CIOs or CMIOs. CIOs/CMIOs working as a team is what is especially valuable--and leads to the most successful efforts. Not sure why all the venom in this blog, but your ignorance of factual data sure undermines your credibility to comment on healthcare IT issues.
    Healthcare CIO
    • RE: Dell health care FAIL

      @Healthcare CIO Contrast the share Dell has, even in health IT, with what HP has. That's the competition, and they're losing it. Getting over it requires advertising an ecosystem, partners new customers trust. They didn't deliver that.
  • Dell is a commodity, and a cheap one at that.

    Dell sells boxes. They actually don't have anything I can see that would propel them to any great success.

    For one thing they are too late in "following the leader". Look at how the medical community has jumped on the iPhone, then touch and now iPad. No way can Dell catch up to them with their "stuff".

    Maybe MS will help at some point, but I doubt it. The software vendors for the larger systems that can filter down to smaller systems are already working with hardware companies. The CMIT guys have long had their preferences on systems, be they PCs. Sun or Apple.

    Dell is simply out of date and out of luck.

    And, IMHO, their consumer support sucks.
  • Dell IS a health services company

    With the acquisition of Perot Dell itself IS a massive health company. Health care is by far Perot's biggest business and the perot acquisition represents roughly 1/3 of all Dell's employees.

    It is basically reaching out to itself.
  • Dell Response

    Dana ? We were disappointed you were unable to participate in a pre-briefing on today?s healthcare mobility announcement. A discussion could have helped to avoid inaccuracies within your commentary. We hope we?re able to connect next time.

    We take issue with your characterization of the hospital CIO as ?a monkey with a wrench.? Most hospitals actually do not have a CMIO, so the CIO is ultimately the one on the hook. We work hand-in-hand with clinicians and CIOs throughout the country who function like united teams. In any case, we are proud of our strong relationships with CIOs, CMOs, CMIOs, CNIOs ...

    To that end, the deadline for meaningful use does not start in two weeks; rather, that is when the first of the funds will flow. Hospitals and providers have until 2015 to qualify before facing penalties. Few are close to ready now, and Dell has been working closely with those organizations to position them for long term success.

    Dell has been talking about meaningful use from the start, participating in committees, providing comments to proposed rules, etc. In fact, one of our central recommendations provided during the comment period was adopted in the final rule.

    Dell is very much a leading brand in the healthcare space. We are closely aligned with the major software vendors in the industry, and we are the leading implementer of the software, hardware, consulting and services that are driving healthcare improvements in hospitals throughout the country. In fact, we do support the healthcare system you reference in your follow-up post; however, as a quick Google search will show, that healthcare services relationship is a product of Dell?s acquisition of Perot.

    The feedback we?ve received shows doctors and hospitals want an integrator, not the vendor, to do the implementation work in their environment.

    Finally, thank you for the update indicating Perot Systems? presence in Healthcare; you may also be interested in know that Dell now is the top provider of healthcare IT Services worldwide, per Gartner.

    We appreciate the opportunity to weigh in and share our perspective with you and ZDNet readers. And we are hopeful that next time you?ll accept our offer to have a discussion before you publish.
    • RE: Dell health care FAIL

      @Colleen@... Thanks for writing, and I hope all our readers reach your note in our thread. It's a good counterweight to what I wrote, and a good example of why blogging beats journalism hands down in my book.

      Thanks again.
      • RE: Dell health care FAIL


        Blogging beats journalism? A bit of a mis-characterization. More aptly, facts countering misrepresentation and uninformed opinions . . .
        Healthcare CIO
  • RE: Dell health care FAIL

    Seriously what a distressing and loaded article. However, let me say I am happy that the author checks his page frequently for responses.

    I will try not to dissect the entire article, but just point to a couple of key inaccuracies that I noticed.

    1. Pointing to the LiquidSilver article on a "recent Dell laptop." Perhaps no one actually clicked on the link, but the laptop in question is at least 5 years old, and the author in the piece was attempting to wipe the OS and create a custom device. Any IT manufacturer would caution against this practice. Why would you need to set up a straw man link to discredit Dell with an article that does not relate to Healthcare?

    2. The time when it's too late to talk about meaningful use is the time when a majority of physicians are meeting the criteria for meaningful use. This is not the case. The definition of MU was codified only recently and the MU certification companies were chosen within the past month. This is pure speculation on my part, but I would think a majority of physicians would not be able to recite the many parameters of MU criteria.

    3. Dell's Partnerships: Dell has partnered with each of the companies mentioned above. In fact, many of those partnerships are listed plainly under the "Partners" Mast-head on Dell's EMR website. Perhaps you missed it?

    This article fails in that it pre-supposes that the Streak is Dell's first attempt at penetrating the Healthcare Space. According to the article interviewing Dell's Healthcare VP's, Streak looks to be a niche item in an otherwise robust "tool kit" around Dell's already successful EMR and Mobile Clinical Computing solutions, rather than a solution in itself.
  • RE: Dell health care FAIL

    What nearly all articles on EMR miss is that medical records are becoming inaccurate and filled with errors. We have doctors typing medical information into their computers. Most doctors are not fast and accurate typists. Furthermore, having the doctors type in the results of exams takes time away from caring for patients. Dictation is generally faster and more accurate. In addition a lot of data is lost when converting from paper records to the EMR. Not all old records are scanned into the EMRs. Important information going back more than 5-10 years is lost. OCR even at 99% accuracy means that 1 in 100 words is wrong. Handwritten notes can be scanned into a jpg file, but cannot be searched for specific words or diagnoses. The cost is $25K or more per doctor to set up and another $2K+ for yearly maintenance. This is when Medicare and Medicaid are paying as little as 20% of what the doctor's fee schedule is. And ObamaCare calls for more cuts in reimbursement. (Yes, I am a doctor who retired early to get out of a system which is quickly failing all of us. I am a patient, too.)