VMware’s Chief Healthcare Solutions Architect, Drew Koerner, dropped by early in the month to discuss Care Systems Analytics, VMware's tool that is designed to offer greater visibility into the true health of Electronic Medical Record (EMR) applications and supporting infrastructure. The goal, he pointed out, is for IT and clinicians to see how long it takes to open a care plan, an OR chart, and many other EMR functions.
Since at one point in my career, I was the assistant data processing manager of a hospital, I had some idea about the problems those in the healthcare industry are facing and how a highly virtualized environment both helps and hurts IT staff members and clinicians.
A bit of history
Koerner spent a bit of time reviewing his history. He came to VMware from Poudre Valley Health System (PVHS) in Colorado. He was responsible for the organization’s desktops, infrastructure, security, and of course, VMware environment. He was proud to point out that PVHS was one of a few health systems to win the Malcolm Baldrige National Quality Award.
PVHS focused on measuring and improving patient care. Metrics such as number of falls, hospital-induced infections, and so on were areas of deep focus.
When he transitioned to the VMware healthcare team, he started working on delivering the "next great VMware solution," tools that help healthcare organizations focus on delivering world-class patient care.
vCloud for Healthcare solutions framework
Koener discussed some high level aspects of the VMware vCloud for Healthcare solutions framework and VMware's "AlwaysOn Point of Care" features. The goal was allowing IT and clinicians to have fast, secure access back to their applications. This, of course, would give valuable time back to doctors and nurses and allow them to focus more on providing patient care than tussling with the computer infrastructure.
Care Systems Analytics
Koener spent some time discussing what he found when he signed on with VMware. The company, he pointed out, had many tools to monitor and manage virtual machine software, virtual storage, virtual desktops and many other important elements of the infrastructure that supports healthcare and other applications. Nothing was available, however, that was designed to help clinicians learn why a given application was slow. So, he focused his team's attention on providing tools for them. Care Systems Analytics, is the result of that effort.
Clinicians can now use a dashboard to see the details of health of their applications. IT administrators can also see what's going on in the hybrid cloud environment to address slowdowns and prevent outages.
The world of a healthcare IT professional is quite a bit different than it was when I was a practitioner. IT is involved in more elements of providing healthcare. We've moved quite a ways from IT just being involved in scheduling, inventory control and billing. This calls for more complex systems.
What Koerner and his team are doing will be of great help to VMware customers. I'm not sure, however, that there are enough unique capabilities provided by these tools to convince healthcare providers who have standardized on tools and cloud computing services and frameworks offered by other suppliers to abandon what they're doing now to adopt what VMware is offering.
While I was impressed with what Koerner and his team have been doing, I had to think that it was very VMware-specific and would be only marginally useful for mixed environments that used virtualization technology for cloud computing environments from other suppliers. It would be of little use to those who are not using VMware products as a foundation for their IT infrastructure.
After the publication of this post, Koener was concerned that he had not been complete in his description of VMware's capabilities and that led me to arrive at incorrect conclusions about multi-vendor compatibility. He provided the following comment:
Thank you for the article about our new Care Systems Analytics solution and great job. You did a great job of capturing the essence of the our history in healthcare and the focus in the space moving forward.
I did want to make a clarification on how the solution works though which I may not have been clear about. The solution works regardless of whether or not the infrastructure is physical or virtual. In fact most Epic databases still run on physical servers for which Care Systems Analytics works just fine. We can ingest any type of time series data whether it is from a physical server, network switch, storage array, and virtual servers as well. As part of our Software Defined Data Center (SDDC) vision, all of these are included and more. This is definitely not strictly a VMware or virtualized only solution and even supports some of our competitors. I apologize if I was not clear about this during the interview, but feel free to reach out to me with any questions or comments.
Thanks Drew for offering your comment.
If Drew is right, it is likely that your systems and applications will be supported. It would still be wise for healthcare organizations to assure themselves that their important systems and applications are supported by VMware's Care Systems Analytics as a part of their due diligence.