Keep Your Customers' Mobile PCs Running
Demonstrating a nonproprietary mobile PC workstation earned a VAR an 850-unit install worth several million dollars with a large hospital.
As a VAR, you may find offering a proprietary IT solution is a good way to ensure your customers come to you for help when something goes wrong. But, there are also times when this strategy can backfire — especially if you sell more products/solutions than you can support. A major southern California medical facility was the victim of such a situation. A couple of years ago, the hospital purchased mobile medical carts from their software VAR as part of an EHR (electronic health records) initiative. The cost was approximately $5,900 apiece for several hundred proprietary mobile medical carts that would allow physicians and nurses to capture patient medical information electronically instead of making handwritten notes and thus improve the workflow. Several months after the purchase, the hospital started having problems with the mobile PC batteries going dead. The hospital’s VAR attempted several times to remedy the problem — and even replaced all the batteries on one occasion — but the problem persisted. When the batteries were charged, the PCs worked fine, but the batteries were not able to power the PCs for more than 1 to 2 hours before needing to be recharged. The simple solution would have been to find a different battery, but the medical carts were designed to work only with the problematic proprietary battery.
This was the predicament the medical facility was in when mobile PC VAR P J Hilton and Associates first met the client at a healthcare trade show. “There were about six VARs and distributors demonstrating mobile medical cart solutions at the show,” recalls Ron Hilton, integration manager at P J Hilton and Associates. “We were one of the hospital’s top three choices it wanted to consider for further review.”
Help Your Healthcare Client Choose The Right Mobile Cart
The VAR followed up with the hospital client after the show and found out a few more details about the client’s needs. After that, it sent a couple of reps to visit the IT decision maker at the hospital to better understand the client’s environment and to find out how soon the hospital was looking to make a purchase. Within a few days, the P J Hilton and Associates reps made a follow-up visit and brought three different mobile medical cart PC solutions to demonstrate to the IT team, plus representatives from the nursing and physicians’ groups. “There were three factors that gave us an advantage over our competitors,” recalls Hilton. “The first was that our solution was entirely nonproprietary — and not just the battery, but the nuts and bolts that held the cart together, also. The second and third advantage points were that we were in the same time zone as the client and we focused exclusively on the healthcare market, which gave them confidence we would be able to support their carts if there were any problems.” Another one of P J Hilton and Associates’ selling points is that all of its employees undergo extensive background checks, and they all have updated tuberculosis vaccinations and health checks, which puts healthcare clients at ease when the employees are in the healthcare facility working around patients.
After checking out three mobile solutions, the medical center chose the one that included an Ergotron Medical Cart with Datalux IPIX 17-inch panel PC and Tripp Lite battery and UPS (uninterruptible power supply). P J Hilton and Associates sold the hospital 850 units for an undisclosed amount, which included a training and support contract. “For every 30 mobile PC units we sell, we buy one backup medical cart that our account rep keeps on standby,” says Hilton. “If the client has a problem, we can respond quickly so the client doesn’t experience any downtime.”
Since winning the major medical center install, P J Hilton and Associates has received a few referrals from the hospital and expects to close some mobile medical cart PC installs in 2006 as a result. Additionally, the VAR is working with the hospital to add tethered and untethered bar code scanners, hardware security products, and a custom-made protective cover for the keyboard and panel displays.