Microsoft and GE will create a health care IT joint venture focused on patient population management and chronic conditions.
Microsoft and GE have
announced they will form a joint venture in health care IT to build an
interoperable platform that enables the management of patient populations and
The new company will inherit
several existing health care products and their teams. Microsoft will
contribute its experience in developing health IT platforms, while GE will
focus on software for clinical administrative workflows. The two tech giants
will also continue their separate efforts in the health care vertical.
The yet-to-be-named company,
announced Dec. 8, will build an interoperable health care platform that could
reduce data incompatibility, or information silos, among various electronic
health records (EHRs), radiology images and systems.
open, interoperable health platforms and software expertise with GE's
experience and health care solutions will create exciting opportunities for
patients and health care providers alike," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said
in a statement.
"With this platform, it
makes everybody have access to a common set of tools, a comprehensive set of
patient information so that people with the greatest insight on how to improve
care have very little barriers to making a difference in health care," Dr.
Brandon Savage, chief medical officer for GE Healthcare, told eWEEK.
"Third parties can
create applications that leverage that platform, and individuals can create use
cases and share them among a user community," added Nate McLemore, general
manager of Microsoft's Health Solutions Group.
With payment models in
health care moving from pay-per-visit to paying for outcomes, doctors need
more visibility into patients' histories and visits with other providers.
"The global health care
challenges of access, cost and quality of care delivery are creating a new
focus on the performance and accountability of health care delivery systems-in
every country, at every level of care," Jeffrey R. Immelt, chairman and
CEO of GE, said in a statement.
GE and Microsoft will
combine several existing products into a joint performance-management suite.
Redmond will integrate its health intelligence platform Amalga, which allows
doctors to view patients' medical histories from multiple databases. Amalga is
the backbone behind several health information exchanges (HIEs), including
projects in Hawaii
where health histories are combined with academic records.
Microsoft will also move its
single sign-on and context-management program Vergence and single sign-on
application expreSSO to the new joint venture.
The HealthVault personal
health portal will remain with Microsoft "as a cloud-based service that we
will continue to invest in and develop over time," McLemore said.
In addition, Redmond will
continue to market SQL Server, SharePoint and Windows Server to hospitals, he
Meanwhile, GE will integrate
its HIE platform eHealth into the new company along
with Qualibria, a clinical knowledge application environment GE developed
along with Salt Lake City health system Intermountain Healthcare and nonprofit
medical and research organization Mayo Clinic.
The Centricity EHR platform
will remain part of GE, according to Savage. GE will also continue to grow its
business of CT scanners and MRI devices as well as applications for
radiologists and cardiologists, he said.
GE and Microsoft plan to
launch the new company, pending regulatory approval, in early 2012. Michael J.
Simpson, vice president and general manager at GE Healthcare IT, will be the joint
venture's CEO. It will establish headquarters near Microsoft in Redmond, Wash.
Although the combined
efforts have the potential to develop a major, interoperable health care IT
platform to compete with industry leaders such as Epic Systems, the two companies
need to show how they'll gel together, according to Shahid Shah, CEO of IT
consulting firm Netspective Communications and author of the Healthcare
"As a combined entity,
GE and Microsoft can certainly pull it off, but they have very different views
of how health care works, so it will be an uphill climb," Shah wrote in an
email to eWEEK.
In addition to competing
with software from Epic Systems, the future health care platform will be an
alternative to Qualcomm's 2net cloud platform for integrating biometric data. Qualcomm
introduced 2net Dec. 5
along with plans for a new Qualcomm Life health care
"Most EHRs and health
IT already rely on Windows and other Microsoft development and automation tools
in general, so focusing on 'Windows for Health' is certainly a good idea for
the market if they leave the platform open to multiple devices, EHRs, analytics
and other toolsets," Shah explained.