GloStream Seeks to Make Software Easy for Doctors to Use, Built on What They Already Know—Microsoft Office
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built Microsoft Office into its applications. Yet there are other health software providers that have also found Microsoft to be a viable technology partner. Greenway Medical Technologies, for example, uses the Microsoft .NET platform to enable its customers to gain remote Internet access their patient records.
Still, gloStream’s use of Microsoft Word has helped make its software more familiar to doctors and their staff, overcoming the major hassles that plagued earlier electronic records systems. “Where they’ve been successful is that the doctors install it, they turn it on, and they say ‘Oh, this looks familiar,’ and they go,” says Bill Crounse, senior director of worldwide health at Microsoft.
In fact, Microsoft once did a survey in the 2002-2003 time frame and learned that thousands of doctors were using Microsoft Office applications such as Word as an electronic health record of sorts for their practices, Crounse says. While Microsoft doesn’t endorse this specific use of Office, he says, it told the company that the familiarity of the applications was a major factor in doctors’ decisions to use it for storing patients’ data.
GloStream has found significant support for its strategy. The firm has raised $15 million from investors such as Farmington Hills, MI-based investment firm Beringea, Sappington, and angel backers. (Beringea is one of the largest venture firms in Michigan.) GloStream has 135 employees both here in the U.S. and in India. The company does not publish any user numbers or performance figures because it is privately held, the CEO says, yet he did say that the business is growing.
Sappington has been around successful IT companies before. He was previously the chief of operations for Netrex Secure Solutions, which was sold to a firm that was eventually acquired by the Armonk, NY-based technology giant IBM (NYSE:IBM). The founders of gloStream are Yaw Kwakye, the firm’s chief software architect, and Milind Ghyar, its managing director in India. Ghyar previously formed a firm in India to train people on Microsoft technology, according to gloStream’s website.
Of course, there are risks associated with building your software on another company’s technology platform. For instance, the platform could become obsolete or get discontinued. (Yet Microsoft, which launched Office 2010 in May, has clearly invested in the future of the Office franchise.) Sappington sounds quite comfortable with those potential dangers. “We believe that the benefits of partnering with Microsoft far outweigh the risks,” he says.