IBM and Cerner partner to generate "e-hospitals" transforming health care

White Plains 10 September 2001IBM and Cerner Corporated have closed a global strategic alliance aimed at helping create e-hospitals which make better use of information technology to improve patient care and provide faster medical treatment with fewer errors. Cerner, a developer of clinical, financial and managerial information software for health care organisations, and IBM, an expert in e-business technology and networking, consider the alliance as a significant step in helping hospitals and medical centres become more efficient. The agreement is effective immediately.

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"IBM and Cerner are helping hospitals break the spiral of escalating cost, preventable medical errors and inefficient operations", stated Russell Ricci, MD and general manager, IBM Global Healthcare. "This alliance will create the only end-to-end solution which is built on a common architecture. This will enable health care delivery in the United States and other countries to become more efficient and improve the quality and speed of consumer health care."

Patrick O'Hare, chief information officer for Spectrum Health, a large health care provider serving 13 counties in western Michigan, added: "Spectrum is focused on getting the most benefit for its technology investments. We could not ask for better partners in this area than IBM and Cerner. We are expecting even better performance and operational efficiencies from this alliance." The agreement will wrap IBM's worldwide e-business technology, marketing and sales capabilities around Cerner Millennium, the company's clinical, management and knowledge software application systems.

Under the agreement, the Cerner applications will be fully optimised and integrated with the IBM server, storage and infrastructure software. This will enable more information to be given to clinicians faster and with more accuracy. Such an end-to-end solution will also help drive down the complexity, initial cost and daily operating expenses, which are key issues for the health care organisations. With the IBM/Cerner solutions, health care institutions will no longer have to cobble together piece parts from different hardware and software suppliers to try and automate their operations.

The integrated Cerner and IBM offerings also will help the health care industry minimise medical errors, which are estimated to cause thousands of patient deaths or injuries each year. For example, electronic-based medical records will be available any time to any appropriate hospital department, unlike paper-based records that may be unavailable, lost or misread.

A recent Institute of Medicine report states that considerably wider use of information technology must play a central role in fixing what is now a "disjointed and inefficient health care system" in the United States. A Rand Corporation study confirmed that assessment, adding that the United States ranks a mere 37th position in the world in overall health system performance. Inefficiency and excessive costs are serious problems facing health care institutions in many other countries as well.

Globally, more than 1500 hospitals and other health care providers already use Cerner software to collect, disseminate and manage patient data across the continuum of care to pharmacies, insurance companies and even to the home with the highest level of security and privacy. IBM will use its worldwide marketing and sales force to recommend and promote the more than 46 integrated software solutions which are part of Cerner Millennium. With Millennium, clinical data can be aligned with hospital financial and operational data to automate and streamline inefficient business practices.

For its part, Cerner will recommend and promote IBM to its customers as a provider of eServer computers, storage area networks and middleware. Cerner will include IBM's framework for e-business as part of its software development strategy and migrate its application software portfolio to it. Future Cerner development work will be integrated with IBM WebSphere, MQ Series, DB2 Universal database, and other IBM standards-based solutions.

The two companies will co-ordinate and conduct global marketing and sales efforts to health care organisations in the Americas and Europe, as well as Asian markets. The IBM/Cerner alliance is another example of IBM's commitment to go-to-market with independent software vendors through the PartnerWorld for Developers programme.


Leslie Versweyveld

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