Patterson leaves 3Com to head Palm enterprise group

May 17, 2000

PDA firm sees docs as early adoptersBruce Patterson, former global healthcare industry market development director for 3Com, has left that position to join Palm as director of enterprise business development. His new responsibilities include

PDA firm sees docs as early adopters

Bruce Patterson, former global healthcare industry market development director for 3Com, has left that position to join Palm as director of enterprise business development. His new responsibilities include developing Palm’s enterprise business across vertical markets, including healthcare. 3Com is undertaking a search to fill the spot left by Patterson and plans to have a candidate in place by the end of June.

Palm is in a prime position to expand its already strong position in healthcare. An estimated 60,000 applications have been developed so far for the Palm OS, and healthcare is considered one of the up-and-coming markets for this technology. As was apparent at the recent HIMSS meeting (HNN 4/19/00), many firms are developing healthcare-specific applications for the Palm platform, including VirtMed, ePhysician, and ePocrates. In addition, several large medical systems manufacturers, including McKesson/HBOC, Cerner, IDX, and Shared Medical Systems, have also chosen Palm for their handheld offerings. While many of these initial applications are for prescription ordering, it is expected that PDAs will eventually be used for a wide variety of physician-based applications, including charge capture, viewing waveform data and lab test results, and accessing and manipulating electronic medical records.

“We consider healthcare a prime early-adopter audience for Palm’s products,” Patterson said. “Although many associate Palm only with Palm Pilots, Palm has at least three different business segments: wireless access and content, the Palm operating systems, and other wireless products, including Web-enabled cell phones and Palm devices.”

In line with this, Santa Clara, CA-based Palm is currently in negotiations with Sony on several potential collaborations for new wireless products that would likely be based on Sony’s smart phone technology. The company also announced in early May that all Palm devices will have Web access by the end of 2000. Palm’s major competitor in the personal data assistant market, Microsoft, already offers Internet access with its Pocket PC software (see related story, page 1). In addition to expanding its wireless Web capabilities, Palm is experimenting with Blue Tooth, a proposed communication standard that allows wireless devices to communicate with each other within a specified area.

3Com is also moving in new directions in the medical market. The company has shifted its healthcare business to concentrate on small to medium locations and is counting on the affordability of gigabit Ethernet networking to drive sales in these markets (HNN 4/19/00). In addition, as part of the current HIPAA-compliance craze, 3Com has introduced new products that address healthcare’s growing emphasis on security and privacy concerns with regard to electronic patient data. These products include network interface cards (NICs) that have their own encryption chip, which uses tripleDES encryption to protect data as they travel through a network. 3Com developed these NICs to take advantage of new features in Microsoft Windows 2000 that allow the NIC to process memory-intensive encryption algorithms, thereby improving system performance. The firm is also offering its healthcare customers e-mail updates on HIPAA requirements and a Security Net online toolkit that allows users to gauge their HIPAA compliance.

3Com has set the final spin-off date for its 94% ownership of Palm (some 532 million shares) for July 27. Shareholders of record on July 11 will receive 1.5 shares of Palm for each 3Com share.