GE plays the embrace and extend game

Now is the time for government to put the hammer down on all medical vendors and demand open, universal, transparent, royalty-free standards. Had we done that with the automakers we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now.

GE Healthcare logoWith considerable fanfare GE Healthcare today announced three programs it says will "deliver the promise of lower cost, higher quality healthcare that spans the entire continuum of care -- from the doctor's office to the patient's home."

Having followed Microsoft for some time, the true meaning here is clear. GE is trying to extend its leadership in diagnostics gear to the rest of the health computing universe, creating one-stop shopping for hospital IT.

Digital Day One is its "starter kit." The idea is to get into hospitals as they're built and make sure GE is the sole vendor, or at minimum the gatekeeper to all other vendors.

GE is also getting together with two key customers -- Mayo Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare of Salt Lake City -- to push medical news directly to hospital IT systems.

Finally it's working with a set of customers on "a collaboration framework to develop and commercialize an open architecture" for health IT systems.

We don't need you working with your customers to create your own framework and call it open, GE. We need you to work with other major vendors and create true interoperability, and true open standards.

This is the opposite. But the press release does provide new federal decision-makers with an opportunity, which is to push GE and other vendors into accepting truly open and universal standards.

Now is the time for government to put the hammer down on all medical vendors and demand open, universal, transparent, royalty-free standards.

Had we done that with the automakers we wouldn't be in the mess we're in now.