Microsoft buys a patient information system. Could a battle with Google for the health care search and service marketplace be far behind?
Microsoft yesterday announced the purchase of a patient information system that collects information from a variety of sources and makes it instantly available to health care professionals.
The system, Azyxxi, was originaly developed at MedStar Health's Washington Hospital Center in 1996. It gives physicians access to clinical information, diagnostics, X-ray scans and a variety of other patient data.
Microsoft also said it formed an alliance with MedStar to create collaborative health care applications. MedStar is the largest health care provider in the Baltimore and Washington, D.C., region.
Microsoft's announcements come at a time when Microsoft is already ramping up its health care products and iniatives, which will presumably be rolled up into a Windows Live Healthcare service. Such a service has been the subject of rumors for several months.
Microsoft's current health site, MSN Health, is one of the top health sites on the Web, according to ComScore. The site receives about 6 million visitors each month, a growth of 27 percent since last year.
Microsoft's relationship with Azyxxi is several years strong. According to a Microsoft case study from 2004, Azyxxi is built completely with Microsoft technology.
Search giant Google is also involved in the health care marketplace.
"The first thing that we've done was a part of the launch of Google Co-op, where we improved the quality of our health search," said Google co-founder Sergey Brin during the company's earnings call this month.
"More broadly, we've seen that health information has a lot of similarities to the kinds of challenges we deal with in terms of just textual information. So we would like to make sure that for this important issue to many people around the world, of health, that we're actually able to contribute our technology to solve some of those problems," he said.