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Microsoft and GE Announce Healthcare Joint Venture

Posted on December 12, 2011 I Written By

Priya Ramachandran is a Maryland based freelance writer. In a former life, she wrote software code and managed Sarbanes Oxley related audits for IT departments. She now enjoys writing about healthcare, science and technology.

I got suckered into article-hopping on TechCrunch reading Dave Chase’s opinion piece on Microsoft’s recent joint venture with GE Healthcare, only Chase’s headline reads “Microsoft Ends Another Vertical Market Dalliance—This Time In Healthcare”. Two hours later, here I am with the post I should have written right away.

Regarding the joint venture, here’s what the Microsoft spin machine put out, and here’s the original New York Times blogpost that first broke the news.

To summarize: Microsoft and GE will be joining forces in a healthcare joint venture, if and when the deal gets regulatory approval. Some of Microsoft’s healthcare projects like Amalga, Vergence, and expreSSO will now form part of the joint venture. The new company has not been named, but there are plans to hire 750 people, sourced from Microsoft, GE and elsewhere.

– HealthVault still remains with Microsoft.

I’m not a Microsoft fan by any standards but I’m not so sure it’s a bad idea for Microsoft to want to join forces with GE, and keep HealthVault inhouse. And I’m also not sure I’d term the process an end to Microsoft’s healthcare plans. It seems more of a shift in gears. However, Chase, who worked with Microsoft for 12 years, believes it is a sign of an exit given Microsoft’s old exit patterns. (Chase’s list of all the verticals Microsoft has exited from makes for interesting reading. Did you know Expedia used to be a Microsoft company? Me neither.) Posting in the discussion following the Tech Crunch article, Chase also insinuates that there have been layoffs among Amalga employees, though he doesn’t give any numbers.

The NYT post states that the aim for the new company is to provide a Windows like platform which developers can then use to create healthcare related apps and services on. It also rightly points out that EMR vendors like Epic and Cerner are not going to be falling head over heels building products for the new platform.

One of the most trenchant comments (to me at least) on the NYT post comes from a commenter called Manuel Albarracin:

“Also, beyond Epic or Cerner, there will be others who will resist change along these lines, for this resistance comes not only from (legitimately) wanting to protect market positions and commercial interests; it also comes from a subtle but entrenched (and not so legitimate) mentality to reinvent the wheel at every healthcare organization, to ‘control things our way’, thus creating ‘walled-gardens’ in each of them.”

Which is probably what Microsoft has in mind – to provide the framework that the apps are built on. If the Windows experience is anything to go by, we should be in for an interesting ride.

Microsoft Shuts Down Amalga HIS – Lesson for EMR Selection

Posted on August 16, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

It’s been a couple weeks since the news came out that Microsoft was shutting down its operations and sales for Amalga HIS. It always felt awkward for me to see Microsoft purchasing a software that was so specific. It just didn’t make sense to me for Microsoft to go after this type of specific product.

John over at Chilmark Research has a good post with his reasons why Amalga didn’t work well for Microsoft. I’m still pondering his comment that the EMR market is mature. However, his take away is a very good one:

Performing a viability assessment on a potential vendor may not reduce one’s risk. Even a big, viable company such as Microsoft may change its mind on occassion and chose to exit a market.

The only clarification I’d make is that a viability assessment does not equal evaluating if the company is big and viable. I cover this topic in my EMR selection e-Book and in these two posts. Not to mention this post on open source (free) EMR software viability.

I think the viability assessment is useful and essential. Just don’t make the simple assumption that large means viable. Ask Misys users about that one.

iPhone and iTouch Front End for Hospital EMR Systems

Posted on October 13, 2009 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the HealthcareScene.com blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of InfluentialNetworks.com and Physia.com. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

I recently got a note from someone who is working on a rather interesting project. They’re basically creating a standard front end for a hospital’s EMR systems. I think the concept is really interesting and could be really cool to see put in practice. Here’s a note from one of the company founders about what they’re doing.

Contineo (Latin meaning “To bring together”) — is designed to be a back-end agnostic client. Our goal is to wrap all medical information systems into a single client. This means providing access to Nurse Call, Patient Monitoring, Results and even EVS (Environmental) and ordering systems (Such as food ordering).

Additionally, we have integrated messaging features (IM) that allow for staff to communicate with one-another and are working on a range of other elements that really focus on providing the best tool of a clinician to access and interact with medical systems and data.

We do this through our client server architecture where the server is integrated with the varied medical systems through standard APIs. We are working to identify key systems that are standards based and develop modules to connect to them.

Any HL7 or XML based backend can be integrated with.

Currently, we have a proof of concept with a major hospital in Silicon Valley, where we are connecting to a Microsoft Amalga system – and providing the same front-end client that is seen in this Medsphere post.

We are working with clinicians to define workflows that are of value to them – this includes things such as medication administration. The client has an integrated barcode scanner which allows for med/patient verification and the logging of the actual admin of a drug. This encounter scenario can be used in a number of workflows; e.g. Verify order, take action, confirm action completed.

This can be pushed back into the EHR via a standard HL-7 message. In the case of an Amalga implementation – the data could be pushed to both the EMR and Amalga

We are seeking input and feedback and are really looking for more hospitals that would be interested in a POC and potential Pilot.

As you can see they’re looking for hospitals to pilot their product. You can contact Contineo on the Contact page of their website. Otherwise, leave a comment and I’m sure they’ll be watching there as well.

I told them they needed to do the same type of interface for ambulatory EMR. Could be really interesting to see that type of integration with the iPhone.