Microsoft and Eclipsys Announce Health Care IT Alliance

Microsoft and Eclipsys announced an alliance Feb. 24 that will combine certain Eclipsys health care IT applications with Microsoft's Amalga Unified Intelligence System, which aggregates disparate information for health care organizations. Microsoft's forays into health care IT include not only Amalga, but also its HealthVault, an online depository for patient health care data. Both companies announced that the alliance would more health care organizations' existing IT infrastructure more efficient in its information storage and retrieval.

Microsoft and Eclipsys announced an alliance Feb. 24 that will see components of the latter's Sunrise Enterprise suite integrated into the former's Amalga Unified Intelligence System, providing health care organizations such as hospitals with increased analytic capabilities on top of unified storage of patient and clinical data.

Eclipsys provides integrated clinical, revenue cycle and performance-management software to health care organizations. Many of its applications are delivered via Microsoft's .NET Platform, and the company has also focused on allowing third parties to build programs that interoperate with its technology.

Microsoft bills its Amalga Unified Intelligence System as a platform that allows health care providers, researchers and hospitals to aggregate information from across an organization into a single point of unified access. That information can conceivably include everything from lab results and demographic information to X-rays and other medical imagery.

"Blending Eclipsys' leadership in physician adoption and sophisticated clinical and decision-support workflows with Microsoft's leadership in interoperability, data extraction, authentication and context management will open up new choices and opportunities for health care organizations needing to make the most from their existing IT infrastructure," Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of Microsoft Health Solutions Group, wrote in a statement. "Eclipsys and Microsoft offer complementary strengths to health care enterprises looking to overcome the restraints caused by legacy health IT applications that block the strategic exchange and use of digital health data."

"Clinicians have been frustrated by not having critical information available to them at the point of care because either the information resided on disparate systems or they were unaware that patient data was available," Philip Pead, Eclipsys president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. "This important relationship with Microsoft marks the opportunity for clinicians to have access to patient data no matter where it resides, thereby improving the quality of care and lowering the cost."

Microsoft's forays into healthcare IT extend beyond Amalga, with the company recently promoting its HealthVault technology for storing patients' medical information. First unveiled in October 2007, HealthVault allows consumers to not only store information in an encrypted online database, but also port that data to physicians and other caregivers.

HealthVault faces competition in the health care IT space from Google, whose Google Health application also allows users to share personal health information with doctors and trusted contacts. Both Microsoft and Google signed partnership deals throughout 2009 in an attempt to increase their respective market penetrations: In March of that year, Google announced that Google Health would be part of a pilot program launched by the CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) in Arizona and Utah; in April, Microsoft announced it would work with the Mayo Clinic to launch Mayo Clinic Health Manager, an online application build on Microsoft's HealthVault technology.

The integration between Microsoft and Eclipsys, as well as new modules for Eclipsys software platform and Amalga, will be demonstrated in March during the 2010 Annual Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society Conference & Exhibition in Atlanta.