November 27, 2012 By D. Craig MacCormack
A/V and IT integrators have been talking about convergence for so long, they probably are tired of the word and have lost track of what the concept is all about.
That’s a shame for those looking for the next “hot” market, because InfoComm International executive director Randal Lemke told attendees at the first Technology Crossroads Conference the health care vertical market could see a $2.6 billion annual growth by 2015 in its A/V needs, thanks in part to the “graying” of America and continuing demand for instant access to all types of information.
The Technology Crossroads Conference represents the first gathering of experts in the A/V and health care IT space and is a collaboration of InfoComm and the National eHealth Collaborative.
Consumer engagement remains a high priority for NeHC, says CEO Kate Berry. To that end, the organization is launching the Consumer eHealth Readiness Tool, an online survey tool that allows users to get a real-time report that tracks their progress toward becoming more engaged with their patients.
“All the things we’re doing and talking about here are about improving health care, not just using technology for technology’s sake,” says Berry.
The message came across loud and clear throughout the day in a variety of sessions, particularly the roundtable discussion, “Direct from the C-Suite: Balancing Innovation, Budget Constraints and Network Security.”
“These days, we play in both the A/V and IT space, and really we have to,” says Edwin Morman, A/V design engineer at General Dynamics Information Technology. “That’s where we can help define what the requirements are to get someone from Point A to Point B.”
As part of continued emergence of the idea of A/V and IT experts working together instead of competing against each other on every job, there’s been a gradual shift away from “selling a box” to the idea of “selling a solution,” says Gary Hall, chief technology architect at Cisco.
“A/V technology is one of the key enablers to collaboration and productivity,” he says. “In health care, that’s even more important. You can’t always communicate what you want to say by email. There are things that don’t translate to text and that require some sort of video communication so everyone understands.”
Bill Spooner, chief information officer at Sharp HealthCare, says A/V technology “is a big part of our planning,” noting their mission-focused approach to jobs is a needed asset when dealing with health care clients.
“I see them leveraging what’s successful in other areas in our space,” says Spooner, pointing specifically to Cisco’s adoption of its telepresence concept for health care providers.
Many A/V and IT integrators continue to be perplexed to some degree when it comes to being successful in the health care space, says Scott Whyte, vice president of IT connectivity at Dignity Health.
“If I were coming into the space as an integrator, I’d want to make sure I have a good sponsor within the organization, so their story has a clear connection to the pain points and the strategic direction of the organization. There are a lot of subtleties and complexities in health care and they change from market to market,” he says.