When a medical specialist sees a patient for the first time and pulls up his or her MRI imagery on a tablet, there’s a very good chance that Cerner technology is behind it. Cerner was founded in 1979 – before the first PC even existed – and today is a leading provider of electronic medical record (EMR) services to the healthcare industry. Its managed healthcare information services have improved hospitals and clinics across more than 35 countries – and it all happens with the help of Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE).
Cerner is a long-term partner in HPE’s OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) program, which provides tailored benefits to large partners in specific industries.
The two companies have worked together for 20 years to build a robust server-side infrastructure that helps healthcare providers solve their most pressing problems. Cerner uses HPE technology to provide a rock-solid IT infrastructure that supports its own software innovations.
“HPE is the primary platform that we use in our data centers across the globe,” explains Ahsan Mirza, Vice President of Global Technology Sales at Cerner. HPE equipment at Cerner’s Kansas City data center supports managed services for healthcare companies across the U.S.
The two partners also work to bring healthcare solutions across the globe. In the UK, Cerner software sits on top of HPE infrastructure to support more than 20 National Health Service trusts.
Together, Cerner and HPE serve a sector that faces immense challenges, explains Mirza. An aging population, breakneck technological innovation and an increased focus on patient outcomes are all putting hospitals and trusts under increasing pressure to do more with their budgets. As a technology service provider, Cerner has become a pivotal partner for its clients as they struggle to meet these challenges.
“Every hospital organization in the world right now is pressed for funds,” Mirza says. “They are being pushed to consolidate across the board, share information and enable patients to communicate better with clinicians and manage their own health.”
A program built for success
“HPE uses its global infrastructure and deep expertise to serve Cerner around the world,” explains Pete Murray, HPE’s Vice President of OEM & IoT Sales Worldwide. “We try to be the IT partner for the OEM. It comes down to quality people, innovation in technology, a great support process and a strong, high-quality supply chain.”
HPE provides reliable product and service sourcing with consistent configuration and pricing, no matter where Cerner is operating. This gives Cerner certainty and scalability as it builds out its data center capabilities to meet ever-increasing demand.
HPE’s globally consistent supply chain capability is part of a broader program providing personalized services for Cerner. Support services are a focal point of this initiative, beginning before HPE equipment is even publicly released. Cerner has early access to HPE equipment, allowing the company to test and integrate new products with its own systems.
“This is particularly important in a heavily-regulated industry where making changes to equipment and software services can affect certification status,” Murray points out. “One thing they’re looking for is for stability in that environment so that it isn’t changing each time they order a new system.”
As you may have guessed, close alignment between the two parties is critical.
“Cerner and HPE work closely together in testing the infrastructure running our electronic management records to ensure the required scalability, resiliency and uptime,” says Mirza, describing it as a joint effort. “That’s part of HPE’s commitment to Cerner, and we value it highly.”
All of this takes place in the Abilities Lab at Cerner’s Kansas City headquarters. The company’s CernerWorks group, which is responsible for Cerner’s application software, operates the facility. This group works with HPE and Cerner Technology Services, which is responsible for managing infrastructure at the company. These efforts ensure a smooth, seamless design and deployment process for Cerner – a key consideration for an organization operating in an environment that has redefined the term “mission critical.”
HPE’s tailored support services extends beyond this phase into post-deployment, thanks to a custom, personalized support function. When Cerner calls HPE with an issue, it is answered by operatives that already know the history and context of the relationship.
Meeting new challenges in healthcare
This tightly knit relationship helps Cerner to meet some of the biggest challenges in healthcare history, including managing the growing volume of information.
“If you look at the healthcare market right now, there’s an explosion in data,” says Murray. The digitization of patient records, combined with increasingly high-definition imaging, is creating mountains of information that must be managed securely and reliably.
Electronic Medical Records (EMR) is a key part of Cerner’s core business, and so data management is a critical part of its skill set. HPE helps Cerner explore new technologies and techniques to manage these increasing data loads, from solid state disks to new information architectures. “We’re working with Cerner to give it early visibility into new innovations,” Murray added.
This innovation extends to the Internet of Things (IoT), which is a focal area for HPE. Hospitals are busy environments littered with complex, high-value equipment that can be hard for medical professionals to find, use and maintain. Connecting them to an intelligent network fabric, edge networking technology and monitoring in Health Life Sciences (HLS) helps to ensure that the right equipment is doing its job in the right place.
Keeping costs down is the healthcare sector’s other big challenge, but Mirza says that HPE has been helping here, too. Cerner uses private cloud computing technology from HPE in its data centers to create elastic computing environments that allocate the right resources at the right time. By driving more efficient provisioning and capacity planning, HPE’s technology delivers cost savings that it can pass onto its customers.
“Instead of 20 machines, I can use five machines that have enough capacity to do the data processing that our solution needs,” he explains. The cloud computing technology also makes the company’s infrastructure resilient and reliable – a key consideration for healthcare clients.
Global players need global partners, and Cerner’s partnership with HPE has enabled the company to succeed on the international stage. “I wouldn't be able to do what I do without a global supplier,” Mirza concludes.
As the relationship between Cerner and HPE extends into its third decade, it has become a blueprint for others in HPE’s successful OEM program. At a time when healthcare is changing so drastically, strong global partnerships are just what the doctor ordered.