Microsoft plans to acquire Sentillion, a privately held health care IT company that provides software applications for caregivers and physicians. Microsoft has made a number of partnerships in health care IT throughout 2009, including a deal with the American Medical Association to give physicians access to patient records through Microsoft's HealthVault application. IT companies ranging from Google to Intel and Oracle have also pushed into the health care IT space.
announced plans Dec. 10 to acquire Sentillion, a privately held health care IT
company. On its Website, Sentillion advertises itself as producing
"identity and access management technology" that allows hospitals and
caregivers to incorporate and control "islands of computerized automation
into cohesive care delivery workflows."
Terms of the deal, which is expected to close early in 2010, were not
Microsoft plans to invest in Sentillion's technologies along with its own,
but will leave the acquisition and management of Sentillion's customer base to
the smaller company. Sentillion's products include Vergence, a clinical
workstation platform that streamlines caregivers' access to applications and
patient data, and Tap & Go and Tap2, which provide instant access to
clinical applications with the "tap of a passive proximity badge,"
according to the company's Website.
"Microsoft and Sentillion share a vision of a connected health system
in which the free and rapid flow of information, coupled with streamlined
access to a hospital's myriad health care applications, empowers doctors and
nurses to perform their roles with greater insight, speed and
effectiveness," Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of Microsoft
Health Solutions Group, said in a Dec. 10 statement.
Microsoft has partnered with other entities for health care IT initiatives
throughout 2009. In June, the company announced a deal with the American
Medical Association to give physicians access to patient records stored in
Microsoft's HealthVault application via a Web-based portal. This followed an
April announcement that the Mayo Clinic would use HealthVault technology for
its Mayo Clinic Health Manager, which allows patients to upload data from home
health devices and receive reminders about their medical care.
HealthVault is an encrypted online repository where patients can store medical
information. Launched in October 2007, the application's revenue was originally
intended to come from advertising linked to its search engine.
Microsoft faces increased competition in the health care IT space from
rivals such as Google, which debuted Google Health, its own online resource for
storing personal health information, in February 2008. Google updated the
service in March 2009 to allow users to send data to doctors and other
Google's recent health care partnerships include CMS
(Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) for a pilot program that would
allow Medicare beneficiaries to input their Medicare claims into Google Health.
and Oracle have also attempted to enter the health care IT field, either by
adding new functionality to existing products or by acquiring smaller startups.
On July 16, Intel announced that it would add more connectivity options to its
Intel Health Guide, a compact white device that allows users to check their
recent health history and connect with a physician or health care provider.
updated Intel Health Guide connects patients and doctors via cable or DSL
broadband in addition to 3G or cellular wireless and residential phone service.
In April, Intel and General Electric jointly announced that they would invest
$250 million over the next five years to develop health care IT technology,
including the Intel Health Guide.
These forays by IT companies have run in parallel with the federal
government's focus on technology as a way to help streamline the U.S.
health care system. During the CEA Line
Shows conference in June, U.S. CTO Aneesh
Chopra discussed the need to bring "innovation platforms" and the
cloud into the technological side of health care.
"I'm fascinated by the idea," Chopra said, "that we can
interconnect all sorts of things that we never connected before."
Nicholas Kolakowski is a staff editor at eWEEK, covering Microsoft and other companies in the enterprise space, as well as evolving technology such as tablet PCs. His work has appeared in The Washington Post, Playboy, WebMD, AARP the Magazine, AutoWeek, Washington City Paper, Trader Monthly, and Private Air. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.