Microsoft-GE venture will focus on information exchange, remote monitoring

Microsoft and GE's health IT division are forming a new global company to help healthcare organizations and professionals "use real-time, system-wide intelligence to improve healthcare quality and the patient experience," the companies jointly announced this week. The venture will create an "open, interoperable technology platform" to support health information exchange and population health management. The latter area is starting to become important to healthcare providers because of impending reimbursement changes.

The new company will combine GE's knowledge of clinical and administrative workflows with Microsoft's expertise in building technological platforms. Both founding firms will contribute intellectual property to the project.

Among the Microsoft products to be included are Microsoft Amalga, an enterprise health intelligence platform that allows users to view data in multiple systems; Microsoft Vergence, a single sign-on and context management solution; and Microsoft ExpreSSO, an enterprise single sign-on solution.

GE brings to the table GE Healthcare eHealth, a health information exchange product, and GE Healthcare Qualibria, a "clinical knowledge application environment" that's being developed with Intermountain Health Care and Mayo Clinic. GE's Centricity electronic health record system evidently is not involved in the joint project.

Microsoft and GE will continue to maintain separate presences in the health IT market and sell other products and services around the world, the announcement emphasized.

The companies offered two examples of how their collaboration could improve the quality and lower the cost of healthcare. First, they noted, the new entity's solutions could be used to fight healthcare-associated infections by pulling data together from disparate systems. Second, they said, the joint venture would focus on using remote patient monitoring to improve chronic disease management.

GE already has home monitoring devices and is pushing further into this area through its joint venture with Intel, which was announced in August 2010. Mayo Clinic has been conducting research with Intel-GE Care Innovations on ways to use remote patient monitoring to keep elderly patients out of the hospital.

The GE-Microsoft joint venture is expected to be launched in the first half of 2012, following regulatory approvals. It will be based near Microsoft headquarters in Redmond, Wash. Michael J. Simpson, vice president and general manager at GE Health IT, will serve as the CEO of the new enterprise.

To learn more:
- read the announcement
- see the Health Data Management article
- see the fact sheet on the GE-Intel joint venture (.pdf)

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