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Scott Shreeve, MD

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HIMSS, Part I: Microsoft to fully "apply" itself to Healthcare

Apply (ə-plī’) v.

  1. To put to into action or adapt for a special use.
  2. To devote (oneself or one’s efforts) to something.

Steve Ballmer, the enigmatic CEO of Microsoft gave the keynote address today at the HIMSS conference in New Orleans. While he wasn’t at his Monkey Boy best, he did show a highly provocative video (couldn’t find a link) about healthcare in the future (reminded me alot of the type of technology that was shown in Minority Report) . In addition, he did throw out a few interesting thoughts as it relates to the healthcare industry. Some of the more profound comments:

  1. Healthcare is “the greatest opportunity that Microsoft has ever had in its 30 years of existence.”
  2. Microsoft plans to “leverage ALL their hardware, software, and creativity toward solving healthcare related problems”. He promised that Microsoft would “apply” itself fully to solving this problem.
  3. Azyxxi a proprietary enterprise Electronic Health Record company that Microsoft purchased last summer, is “the most exciting software that Microsoft is working on” right now. Ballmer described Azyxxi as a ”unified healthcare information technology platform”.

While I have fundamental differences with Microsoft’s approach to business, intellectual property philosophy, and their commitment to open processes, I do welcome their participation to solving some of the most challenging problems in the largest industry of our country.In some ways, I am not sure if Ballmer’s statements are a call to action or a veiled threat to the current healthcare IT vendors. With its expansive pervasive technology base and expansive partnership program, Microsoft can’t help but find itself in the odd position of both promoting and competing with its partners.

Regardless, throwing their massive research and development budget at this problem, and the subsequent rounds of innovation and response from more nimble (and more open) technology companies, will have multiple, positive ripple affects on the development of new technology, hardware platforms, and software applications for the healthcare industry.

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