Siemens deal brings Microsoft further into health IT mainstream

Microsoft's challenge now is to turn relationships like those with Siemens into health IT market share.

When Microsoft first entered the health IT industry a few years ago it was seen as an interloper, an outsider, a mainline "PC software" company trying to muscle into a specialist area in direct competition with its own customers.

Microsoft has worked hard to change that impression. That work is now paying off. Its deal with Siemens for its HealthVault Personal Health Record (PHR) only covers Europe, but the who it's with is still significant.

That's because Siemens is not just a German IT vendor. It is one of the leading health IT vendors in the U.S., with a big share of both the radiology and computing markets. Maintaining a good relationship with Siemens in Germany will also help Microsoft do business here.

Companies like Siemens and GE used what IT people would call peripherals to achieve their leadership roles in health IT. Devices like CAT scanners creating large files gave them the chance to store and manipulate those files throughout hospitals, and they have used that leverage.

Microsoft is coming to the market from a different direction, essentially from the business office. There is a natural collision and pushback when a business vendor comes onto the hospital floor, and questions about whether they understand what doctors and nurses are doing.

Microsoft has approached this problem methodically, and its deal with Siemens shows the approach has been successful. The challenge now is to turn those relationships into market share, and evidence for that will be on display in March when the HIMSS show comes to Atlanta.

ZDNet will be covering it.