Microsoft and GE initiate joint venture

Microsoft and GE Healthcare have announced a 50:50 joint venture to develop and market a new technology platform for the healthcare sector.

The venture will include data capture and analysis technologies to target major healthcare problems such as hospital-acquired infections and chronic disease management.

In a statement, the two companies said the venture “will develop and market an open, interoperable technology platform and innovative clinical applications focused on enabling better population health management to improve outcomes and the overall economics of health and wellness”.

It is expected to launch in the first half of 2012 and is as yet unnamed. It will be based near the Microsoft campus in Washington, with a significant presence in Salt Lake City and around the world. Michael Simpson, vice president of GE Healthcare IT, will serve as the company’s CEO.

Harry Simeonidis, CEO of GE Healthcare Australia & New Zealand, said: “By combining GE's expertise in developing clinical and administrative workflow solutions with Microsoft's deep expertise in building platforms and ecosystems, we will be able to quickly and strategically advance our shared vision of a connected, patient-centric healthcare system.

"Both businesses are well known in Australia and by working together, GE and Microsoft can help healthcare providers take on some of the challenges facing our healthcare system by improving access, quality and reducing cost."

Microsoft will contribute intellectual property from its Amalga enterprise health intelligence platform, its Vergence sign-on and context management solution and its ExpreSSO enterprise single sign-on solution, while GE Healthcare will contribute its health information exchange eHealth and its Qualibria clinical knowledge application environment, which is being developed in cooperation with US provider Intermountain Healthcare and the Mayo Clinic.

The partners said the “long-term vision of the venture is to create new value by offering a healthcare performance management suite that includes many of these products”.

Microsoft recently sold its Amalga hospital information system, which is deployed in five hospitals in south-east Asia, to NZ-based Orion Health.

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said that by working together, GE and Microsoft could help make healthcare systems more intelligent and cost efficient.

“High quality affordable healthcare is one of the biggest challenges facing every nation, but it’s also an area where technology can make a huge difference,” Mr Ballmer said.

“Combining Microsoft’s open, interoperable health platforms and software expertise with GE’s experience and healthcare solutions will create exciting opportunities for patients and healthcare providers alike.”

The companies said the partnership 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.

“The venture will develop healthcare applications on the platform using in-house developers and the platform will connect with a wide range of healthcare IT products, including those from GE Healthcare IT and other vendors.”

For hospital-acquired infections, the companies plan to develop technologies than can pull together data from disparate IT systems to identify patients most at risk. For chronic conditions, the platform and applications will support the sharing of data from at-home medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs and glucometers with caregivers to facilitate better tracking of chronic conditions.

Comment is being sought from both companies on a potential Australian role in the new venture.

Posted in Australian eHealth

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