Microsoft readies a consumer healthcare platform

Microsoft readies a consumer healthcare platform

Summary: Microsoft has made no secret about the fact it has designs on being a healthcare-IT contender. But what the company has kept under wraps, at least until now, was what it planned to do on the consumer side of the healthcare space.

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TOPICS: Health, Microsoft
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Microsoft has made no secret about the fact it has designs on being a healthcare-IT contender. But what the company has kept under wraps, at least until now, was what it planned to do on the consumer side of the healthcare space.

Sure, there've been hints here and there that Microsoft was readying some kind of "Windows Live Healthcare" offering. And it's not a huge surprise that Microsoft would be considering some kind of consumer-facing offering, given that Microsoft rival Google and AOL Founder Steve Case's Revolution Health are rushing headlong into the patient-information world.

Microsoft is, indeed, readying a consumer healthcare platform, confirmed Steve Shihadeh, General Manager for Sales, Marketing and Solutions with Microsoft's Health Solutions Group.

"We are focused on both the enterprise and consumer space," Shihadeh said, during a meeting we had in New York this week. Healthcare isn't just another vertical market to Microsoft. Microsoft's Health Solutions Group has over 600 employees in health-related sales, marketing and product development  roles across a handful of groups. (There are 13 physicians on staff, as well.) The Health Sciences Solutions Group an incubation project that falls under Chief Research and Strategy Officer Craig Mundie's domain.

Products already known to be part of Microsoft Health Solutions' purview are the Medstory medical Web-search engine that Microsoft bought in February, and Azyxxi, an integrated "health intelligence" system that Microsoft acquired in July 2006.

Microsoft is looking to Medstory to allow users to conduct and save searches via which they will be able to "build a personal health record," Shihadeh explained.

But beyond that, Microsoft is looking for the best way to create a consumer-health platform, which would provide users with a centralized, secure way to access their health information, which could include anything from their medical records, to their health-related Web searches, to their exercise schedules.

"We think people will want their records on their PC, but also on a secure server in the cloud, where you could give physicians access to them, if you choose to do so," Shihadeh said.

(Yep, it sounds like Software + Services is, not surprisingly, on the Health Solutions strategy docket.)

Shihadeh wasn't yet ready to talk specifics about how and when Microsoft will make such a platform available to consumers. My bet? We'll see the Redmondians roll out one or more Windows-Live-type healthcare services, via which they'll be able to store and access their health information. I'd wager there will be an equivalent set of business/enterprise services aimed at hospitals who want secure access to that same information (with the patients' consent, of course).

How would you feel about a Microsoft healthcare platform/service? Would you trust it any more/less than a Google one?

Topics: Health, Microsoft

About

Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

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29 comments
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  • Fine choice

    [i]How would you feel about a Microsoft healthcare platform/service? Would you trust it any more/less than a Google one?[/i]

    That's like being asked whether you prefer execution by firing squad or burning at the stake.

    Google has a better track record on security and lock-in (which is certainly damning with faint praise), but the whole question presumes that having your medical records controlled by a mega-corporation is inevitable.

    Thanks, no. I'm really not interested in having Microsoft mining my medical records, much less giving them the power to hold them hostage. I might distrust Google a bit less, but "distrust less" is lowering the bar more than I'm willing to go.

    I'll take hardcopy, thank you.
    Yagotta B. Kidding
    • YBK... I agree 100%

      No, I don't wnat my health records "out there" for anyone.
      No_Ax_to_Grind
      • Too late

        They're already "out there". You can only hope that whomever has them is HIPAA-compliant, but even so, it's a matter of time before they suffer a data breech that affects you. Doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, pharmacies, et. al. all have YOUR information somewhere in their system. This is just a fact of 21st century life.
        Real World
        • Waivers

          [i]You can only hope that whomever has them is HIPAA-compliant, but even so, it's a matter of time before they suffer a data breech that affects you.[/i]

          Keep in mind that a requirement for any kind of medical treatment is that you first sign a waiver of your rights under HIPPA.
          Yagotta B. Kidding
          • Not quite true.

            But close. If you want an education look up a company called MedDecision. Amazing the medical data mining these folks do. I work for an insurance company and we contract with them to deliver a person's entire clinical history to his physician. Yes, the patient must do a HIPPA authorization first, but that's just for the delivery. Your info is already owned by MedDecision.
            slopoke
        • Sorry but you are dead wrong.

          I happen to live in a part of the US where people value their privacy and doctors keep everything confidencial. (Or they aren't in business by the end of the day.

          Insurance? Nope, self insured.
          Hospital? Haven't seen one in 30 years.
          Pharms? Nope, haven't had an Rx in the same 30 years.

          It's the clean living...
          No_Ax_to_Grind
          • He may be right.

            Do you have employees? - I assume that if you own a company, you must.

            Do you provide any part of their insurance? If so, there's your exposure. If the doctors take an insurance plan, then they already share information with the insurance companies. If a hacker can sock your insurance carrier for 20M USD, why wouldn't he? After that, you might only face a 300% hike in premiums. Or you might lose several employees when you tell them that you can no longer get coverage for them.

            Never think that because you might not be directly affected that you are invulnerable to the effects of a data breach.


            "It's the clean living..."
            And here I thought it was the way that the most curmudgeonly elder folks linger on, and on, and on, and... Well you get the picture.
            Letophoro
          • Some would call what you describe as abject poverty.

            Insurance? Nope, self insured.
            Translation: can't afford it, too poor.

            Hospital? Haven't seen one in 30 years.
            Long time to be below the poverty line.

            Pharms? Nope, haven't had an Rx in the same 30 years.
            Too poor to afford any modern drugs, still using home remedies?

            It's the clean living...
            Lost of really poor but proud people say stuff like that.
            B.O.F.H.
        • correct.

          Add to that any number of other business partners involved in TCO and federal and local agencies. <br>
          Nothing with PHI can be shared outside of these business partners so anyone that partners with a covered entity must sign a contract and is bound by hipaa law, whether it's Microsoft or Bubba's we-make-em-pay collection agency.
          xuniL_z
        • Data Breeches?

          Is that anything like data knickers?

          Anyway, security is the main reason I don't want Microsoft handling my healthcare
          records, or my financial records or any other kind of records for that matter.
          Immanuel Tranz-Mischen
  • Not a chance.

    Sorry, one of the reasons Microsoft doesn't have a deep penetration into Medical IT is it's dismal security record and given the penalties for HIPPA violations it's just not worth the risk. For a consumer's stand point, I wouldn't want it. How do I know it hasn't been hacked and the med records shuffled just for fun? True that's a nightmare scenario but it's very possible. There's a reason the medical profession relies on UNIX, LINUX and proprietary mainframes. They are simply safer, more reliable and less vunerable to attack.
    maldain
    • Could be worse...

      ...they could be writing the software for the radiotherapy machines. Therac-25 anyone?
      odubtaig
    • Herd safety

      [i]Sorry, one of the reasons Microsoft doesn't have a deep penetration into Medical IT is it's dismal security record and given the penalties for HIPPA violations it's just not worth the risk.[/i]

      The folx providing medical IT services don't agree. From conversations, the main reason is that they've never used anything [u]but[/u] consumer desktop platforms and consider their drawbacks as inherent to "computers." Put another way, they just don't think about them.

      As for HIPPA, they have safety in numbers: "everyone does it that way" means that it's legally safer to use a common insecure platform than to stand alone using something better.

      Welcome to the country with more lawyers than the rest of the world combined.
      Yagotta B. Kidding
  • Umm

    isn't the medical field messed up enough? ]:)
    Linux User 147560
  • I trust Microsoft a whole lot more than Google.

    No matter what Google does with my healthcare information, for keeping it private... I'm sorry, I won't trust Google, even with a 1024-bit encryption. *sigh*

    This also goes with Desktop Search, Google Aps, etc. and I have no use for them.

    I've grown fond of Microsoft, so I have total trust with them.
    Grayson Peddie
    • What Color Are You MS Pom Pons? </eom>

      --Doug Hettinger
      dhettinger
      • This person is a real

        winner! Hehe... trust me, if you are a frequent flyer here ya know what I mean! ]:)
        Linux User 147560
        • what is that...

          supposed to mean? Someone distrusts Google but not Microsoft? It's certainly got a higher percentage chance than the other way around. Oh, that's right you keep ignoring the masses that retained their trust in Microsoft even after the anti trust mess. And lockin became a thing of the past after that series of political blunders and misuse of existing law. <br>
          YOu can't agree with the finding and disagree with the remedies, which level the playing field. Not w/o being a hypocrite and when you do that, you bring into question the justice system's ability to have gotten the first part of the equasion correct as well. <br>
          xuniL_z
  • They dont know what clinical staff want or the process

    Yes, i agree that alot of medical software is out of date and that this might get them to actually embrace newer technologies... but there are companies out there that have been in this very fickle field much longer and have the experience necessary to deal with the inner workings of a EHR system.

    Not to mention the fact that practices are not cookie cutter, each one has its own set of acronyms, processes, needs that have to be independently fulfilled.

    Now this doesnt mean they couldnt buy a company like medical manager(webmd, sage now i think).

    Lets not forget not for profit healthcare companies who have to deal with medicare and medicaid or grant programs. How about pharmacy? Dental? Phsyciatric? OB? Peds?

    I know they bought great plains( now dynamics) and did a reasonably good job at getting it up to snuff, but healtcare packages are 10 times more detailed and specialized than that.
    Been_Done_Before
  • MS Is Too Averse to Legal Liability To Become a Player...

    ...in this arena. I worked a one year engagement for a large health care provider and got alot of exposure to many aspects of medical systems. I would have to agree with the previous poster that referenced the security concerns. I am also familiar with the Health Care vertical practice within MS. Aside from some cheesy little "HIPAA adapters" for BizTalk to drive sales of that product, they have no current coverage here that I am aware of. Six hundred people are enough to drive marketing of their horizontally focused products (OS and middleware services, as well as hand-held devices) but they have no intention of creating health-care products. This is most likely a lobbying effort to try and reduce the stigma of the MS brand within an industry where MS motives are regarded as suspect. Former docs and health care execs can help to drive sales through rewards to insiders, which is likely the focus of this initiative.

    --Doug Hettinger
    dhettinger