Microsoft's Ballmer: Focus on the patient for long-term gains

It's not exactly a secret that various technology companies stand to profit handsomely from the estimated $20 billion infusion of federal dollars into electronic medical records. In jockeying for some of that cash, vendor executives are making the rounds to convince business and general IT interests that the time has never been better to get involved in healthcare. "I'm optimistic. The money is coming. The national debate has been engaged. And now is the time where our industry may be able to step up with some enabling factors and make an even bigger difference," Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer said at a Nashville Health Care Council meeting in Tennessee last week.

"We look at the healthcare industry and say, 'It's not working.' Yet more than most industries, it is all about information--getting the right information to the right person at the right time," Ballmer said, the Nashville Business Journal reports.

The Microsoft honcho was joined on a panel by several health IT vendor executives, notably Allscripts-Misys Healthcare Solutions CEO Glen Tullman and George Lazenby, CEO of Nashville-based Emdeon. Both companies report that their e-prescribing businesses have more than doubled in the past year. "We think it's just the beginning of this industry in terms of growth," Tullman said.

Ballmer advised tech companies in Nashville, the unofficial capital of for-profit medicine, to focus on the patient if they want to make a difference in healthcare. "Start the dialogue with the physician with the patient's perspective and the patient's information in mind. It may not be the most rewarding in the short-term, but it's the most transformational thing you'll be able to do in the long run," he said.

For further details:
- check out this Nashville Business Journal story