In a previous blog I discussed the need for a uniformed data structure in healthcare. The concept got me thinking about how to accomplish such a monumental task, and make no mistake, it would be a monumental task. There aren’t many “people” out there that could develop the hardware and software infrastructure solid enough to handle the needs of the complex data stream coming out of the healthcare industry.
Then I noticed a trend at a lot of the web sites that I frequent: Microsoft has slowly, and quietly, been positioning itself to jump into the healthcare market.
Consider the following:
- Microsoft has been plowing forward with their cloud and Software-as-a-Service model: Azure Platform, Office Live, etc.
- Microsoft is offering American scientific researchers free access to their new Window’s Azure platform. This should allow centralized data collection for scientists to collaborate on research projects.
- HealthVault is one of the key players in the personal healthcare record (PHR) race. Google Health is the other big boy on the block. Sure, there are other players in the game, but even they recognize the need to acknowledge the dominance of Microsoft and Google.
- Microsoft announced HealthVault Community Connect, which is designed to help hospitals and patients control the flow of data stored in multiple systems.
- The Cleveland Clinic and Microsoft partnered to use HealthVault with the hospitals EMR to track patients with chronic conditions.
- EHR vendors are starting to get on board with the Microsoft platform.
- Microsoft already offers a health information system, i.e. Amalga Hospital Information System. Why isn’t anyone talking about it?
- Take a look at some of Microsoft’s activity at HIMSS 10.
- Microsoft Surface – what a great tool for physician interaction with patients.
- Mobility – at the moment, the only real player in the tablet computer game is Microsoft. I’m encouraged by the iPad and the Adam, but for now there is only Microsoft and Windows XP tablet, Vista and Windows 7. Microsoft will have to do a better job with their smartphone platform, but take notice that they continue to push forward with the concept even though they’re getting trounced by the iPhone and Android devices.
- Microsoft and Philips are collaborating to build clinical decision support tools (CDST).
- Microsoft is already entrenched in numerous healthcare systems across the country, perhaps the world, as an enterprise partner. Windows is still the dominant operating system found on desktop computers in hospitals, and how many millions of healthcare providers already use a Microsoft productivity application, i.e. MS Office, Exchange Server, MS Outlook, MS SQL Server, so on and so forth. This gives Microsoft an extensive user base from which to build an incredibly integrated system.
Further consider that software like our pharmacy information system (PhIS) and BCMA system from Siemens is built on the .NET framework using Visual Basic.NET. Yep, another Microsoft product. How long do you think it will be before other vendors begin partnering with Microsoft to develop and integrate products that will work in the healthcare arena? I’m betting not long.
I’d love to spend a few days in Redmond running around playing with all their toys. I can’t imagine the research and development that goes on behind those walls, but it must be pretty cool. I’m sure we only see a fraction of what they’re working on.
Microsoft may be aging and their bite may not be as vicious as it used to be, but they are still an 800 pound gorilla in the the software industry. And what can an 800 pound gorilla do? You got it, anything it wants.