How Will Microsoft Become a Top Player in Health IT? Through Partnerships, Providers, and Pluck, Says GM Michael Raymer

5/21/10Follow @gthuang

If you talk to doctors and healthcare companies, you’ll hear a fair bit of skepticism about whether Microsoft will ever amount to much of a major force in health technology. Of course, Microsoft is plenty used to skepticism. Crushing it, that is.

That’s why the Redmond, WA, software company (NASDAQ: MSFT) has been seriously ramping up its efforts at the intersection of health and information technology. We’ve reported on the progress of Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group in trying to gain traction with its three main product lines: HealthVault, the electronic health records repository for physicians and consumers (Microsoft’s word for “patients”); Amalga, the software platform for unifying all the 65 or so proprietary health programs in the average U.S. hospital; and Amalga Life Sciences, a platform to help researchers manage huge amounts of genomic and medical data.

But I wanted to drill down into what exactly makes Microsoft think it can compete in the long run with all the dedicated healthcare systems and companies out there. For that, I went to Michael Raymer, who has been a global market strategist and general manager in Microsoft’s Health Solutions Group for just over a year and a half. Previously, he was a senior executive at Misys Healthcare, GE Healthcare, and IDX Systems.

Raymer holds no illusions about Microsoft’s place in the industry. The company is known for its business software, entertainment systems, and, increasingly, its Internet products. But healthcare—even though the industry uses Word, Excel, and Windows as much anybody—-is a truly different animal. Raymer talked about making the proper acquisitions to enter the health IT market, like Boston-area-based Sentillion. Microsoft has also taken care to hire the right experts. For example, there are a number of clinicians in his group working in product management, sales, and engineering. Raymer also mentioned the importance of forming partnerships.

Take Microsoft’s recent alliance with Eclipsys (NASDAQ: ECLP), a healthcare software firm based in Atlanta. The partnership was announced in February and is already paying dividends to both companies. “We reached out to Eclipsys over a year ago to work on a partnership,” Raymer says. “There was not much interest. Then, before the holidays, they had a shift in strategy. They saw … Next Page »

Gregory T. Huang is Xconomy's Deputy Editor, National IT Editor, and the Editor of Xconomy Boston. You can e-mail him at gthuang@xconomy.com or call him at 617-252-7323. Follow @gthuang

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  • healthITguru

    Hmmm.. MS has now spent four years working on this and gotten no traction. Mayo doesn’t count because they gave them the software as an “early adopter” which is code for “free.” I hear the same mantra from CIO at healthcare facilities all the time re: MS: products are too expensive and sales force is too arrogant. At some point when this is all folded into another division with better leadership and vision they may meet some success.