Microsoft and GE Healthcare announced this morning that the companies will form a joint venture, creating a new company that will offer software tools for managing population health to improve outcomes and cost.
Microsoft will move its Health Solutions Group employees and assets to the new company, effectively ending its direct involvement in provider healthcare technology. Corporate Vice President Peter Neupert announced his retirement from Microsoft.
The new company, which has yet to be named, will be launched in the first half of 2012. Microsoft will contribute its Amalga health intelligence platform, the Vergence context management and single sign-on solution, and the expreSSO enterprise single sign-on product to the joint venture. Those products had been acquired from MedStar Health (Azyxxi) in 2006 and Sentillion (Vergence, expreSSO) in 2009.
Microsoft HSG’s hospital systems product line that was acquired from Thailand-based Global Care Solutions in 2007 had already been retired, but was sold to Orion Health in October 2011.
In an interview with HIStalk, Neupert said the bulk of HSG employees will be transferred to the new company, joining those GE Healthcare employees who are assigned to the eHealth and Qualibria projects for an initial headcount of 700. The company’s headquarters will be in Redmond, WA.
Microsoft’s HealthVault will not be part of the joint venture, Neupert told us, explaining that HealthVault needs to remain “independent and consumer-facing.”
The announcement states that the new company will deliver “a distinctive, open platform that will give healthcare providers and independent software vendors the ability to develop a new generation of clinical applications.”
Neupert explained that Microsoft Amalga will be the base layer of the new offering, bringing in data from other systems and adding metadata. GE Healthcare Qualibria will provide advanced data descriptors such as clinical vocabulary and context (such as where a patient’s blood pressure was taken and whether the patient was sitting or lying down at the time.) External applications can then retrieve data, data meaning, and workflow context from the new system. “Provider and payor will become intermixed,” Neupert said. “Our customers already do cohort management. How do we get really good at making cohort groups discoverable and manageable in an interesting way?”
Neupert said the platform will have open APIs for developer access. Amalga’s services can manage healthcare-specific requirements such as access controls and auditability, allowing third-party developers to build solutions around large enterprise databases. “In a patient-centric world, you want the data to be separate from the app,” he told HIStalk. “You want competition to be based on user interface and functionality, not a vendor’s ability to lock up the data. Customers want choice.”
The announcement indicates that the new company will market its products globally. Neupert said that there’s always a difference between ambulatory and inpatient care and that all governments want to tie in home care. He expects the new products to assist in those efforts, acknowledging that countries will evolve differently.
Michael J. Simpson, general manager of GE Healthcare’s Healthcare Knowledge & Connectivity Solutions practice, has been named CEO of the new company. He joined GE Healthcare in 2010 after a few months as SVP of product strategy for QuadraMed. Before that, he spent 5 1/2 years as general manager and chief technology officer of McKesson’s Horizon Clinicals business unit.
Simpson told HIStalk that he plans to enable customers to be amazed, opening up the user experience to caregivers and bringing the cultures of software development and customer relationship management to the patient. “Connectivity across inpatient and outpatient will require new platforms,” he said.