Microsoft Corp. and General Electric Co. are joining forces to create a health care technology platform, the companies announced on Wednesday. The joint venture aims to help health care organizations integrate data, coordinate care and—hopefully—improve patient outcomes, Microsoft said in a statement.
Better electronic health records are a priority of the Obama administration, and health care reform legislation includes provisions aimed at improving electronic medical record-keeping. The aim to is help get all of a patient’s physicians in sync, helping doctors manage complex cases and pinpoint developing health issues before they escalate.
"Part of the problem in health care is there's so many doctors; there's so much information to bring together. There's not a single place for that," GE Healthcare executive Michael Simpson told Reuters. "When you talk about how do you bend the cost curve, it's not about making big monolithic systems; it's about joining systems and aggregating the data together so that people can make better decisions." Simpson will be the new company's CEO.
The Microsoft-GE initiative, to be launched next year, will combine some of Microsoft and GE's existing health care products, and will develop tools for uses such as managing patients with chronic conditions and reducing the incidence of health care associated infections, Microsoft said.
The venture will initially focus on hospitals and large physician groups, according to The New York Times.
The Mayo Clinic, a customer of both GE and Microsoft, helped prod the companies to work together, The Times reported. Both the Mayo Clinic and Intermountain Healthcare lent their support to the new venture, according to Microsoft’s statement.
The new company will be headquartered near Microsoft's base in Washington state and will have "significant presence in Salt Lake City, Utah," Microsoft said. Intermountain Healthcare has its headquarters in Salt Lake City.
The companies plan to develop something a little like the Microsoft Windows operating system, The Times reported: a standardized foundation that computer programmers can use to create new applications. However, The Times notes, many competing health care IT firms have already developed their own software, and may be reluctant to build applications for a Microsoft-GE platform.
“This is a big bet,” Simpson told The Times.