Philips launches IT-focused group to help hospitals improve efficiency

June 1, 1998

Philips launches IT-focused group to help hospitals improve efficiencyVendor shifts PACS efforts into new organization Philips Medical Systems has launched a new business unit that will develop a full suite of products and services to

Philips launches IT-focused group to help hospitals improve efficiency

Vendor shifts PACS efforts into new organization

Philips Medical Systems has launched a new business unit that will develop a full suite of products and services to help hospitals operate more cost-effectively. Named Philips Healthcare Services and aimed primarily at developing healthcare information technology, the group offers hospital management services, multivendor service, and customer financing assistance. It also includes the Dutch vendor's Integrated Clinical Solutions group, which holds the firm's PACS, RIS, and other information technology offerings.

Philips decided to integrate these functions to organize all aspects of the company's healthcare information technology efforts more effectively, said Fred Prior, who has been named director of ICS as part of the restructuring. The inclusion of the ICS group, which had previously been part of a Philips imaging modality unit, was made in recognition of the unique purchasing needs of PACS customers, Prior said.

"Healthcare information technology is not the same as diagnostic imaging modalities," Prior said. "You need a different business model and some different approaches to solving customers' problems."

The Best, Netherlands-based ICS unit has made some personnel moves as part of the restructuring. Prior previously served as director of the company's Medical Greenhouse Rapid intranet Development (MedGRiD) healthcare information technology development office in Palo Alto, CA. He replaces interim ICS director Ben Wijdeveld, who has moved on to head up the Africa, Latin America, and Middle East (AFLAME) sales and service region for PMS. The company's ICS headquarters will be Prior's base, but he will also spend significant time at the MedGRiD office.

In addition to Prior, other MedGRiD team members are also making the move to ICS. Director of business development Michael Sullivan will oversee strategic planning for ICS, while Steven Wong has been named chief architect of ICS. Wong was chief architect of the MedGRiD team and worked previously under Dr. Bernie Huang at the Laboratory for Radiological Informatics at the University of California, San Francisco.

Prior will report to industry veteran St. John Brown, who will head up PHS. Brown previously was director of PMS corporate strategy, marketing, and marketing communications and has served as head of the company's Asian operations. He has also worked for GE Medical Systems.

One of Prior's top goals is to increase the marketing presence of Philips in PACS. Although it was one of the early entrants into the PACS market, Philips has found success in this realm elusive and has changed its focus several times in the last decade (PNN 3/98).

Philips is trying hard, however, to achieve success in PACS. The vendor is working on several large-scale PACS installations around the world, including sites in the U.S., U.K., and Germany.

"Our goal is to have solid, successful projects with our clinical partners and to build on that basis to grow in the PACS market," he said. "We want to prove that we're firmly in the market."

Prior plans to improve the communication between the regional ICS sales groups and the ICS product development team in Best. As part of this collaboration effort, Prior chairs an ICS steering committee, which includes the directors of the ICS regional sales and service regions. Committee participants include Fred Goeringer (ICS North America), Gerhard Sontheimer (ICS Germany and Eastern Europe), and Paul Arinaga (ICS Western Europe, which includes the Scandinavian countries, France, U.K., the Netherlands, and others). While the directors report to their local headquarters, Prior and the directors will work closely together to ensure that technology is developed to fit the specific needs of the regional markets.

"That's one of the differences between this new healthcare services organization and our previous structure. We are very tightly coordinated with our field organizations," Prior said.

In the meantime, other global ICS sales and service efforts are handled in close cooperation with ICS headquarters by locally based, nondedicated ICS personnel, who are attached typically to their traditional modality organizations.

On the technology side, Philips will continue its successful relationship with its primary PACS partner Sectra-Imtec, which provides some PACS software components on an OEM basis to the firm. In addition, a Philips technological development effort that may yield dividends is the MedGRiD project. Formed in 1997 in Silicon Valley, the group has been working to improve the integration of various healthcare information systems, including PACS. The group, now directed by PACS veteran Bob Glicksman, has principally investigated the use of such tools as distributed object technology and Web protocols. MedGRiD, which was initially attached to Philips Medical Systems North America and now reports to PMS in Best, will be shifted into ICS in January 1999 as part of the restructuring.