GE, Microsoft launch new health IT company

By Mike Miliard
10:34 AM

General Electric and Microsoft will jointly establish a new, as-yet-unnamed healthcare IT company, combining their strengths to spur development of an open, interoperable technology platform and create clinical apps aimed at improving patient care worldwide.

Officials say the new venture will combine Microsoft’s expertise in building platforms and ecosystems with GE Healthcare’s skills developing clinical and administrative workflow tools, better positioning healthcare professionals and organizations to adapt and evolve in a fast-changing healthcare system.

Michael J. Simpson, vice president and general manager at GE Healthcare IT, will serve as the company’s CEO. With some 750 or so employees drawn from both parent companies, it will be headquartered near the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash., with significant presence in Salt Lake City and additional cities around the world, officials said. Its launch, subject to regulatory approvals and other customary conditions, is expected in the first half of 2012. Peter Neupert, corporate VP of Microsoft's Health Solutions Group, will retire from Microsoft next month and act as a consultant to the new company.

[See also: GE and Intel partner for home health initiative.]

The new company's open platform will offer providers and other software vendors the ability to develop innovative of clinical applications, officials say. Apps will be developed by in-house developers, and the platform will also connect with a range of healthcare IT products from other vendors.

“The complementary nature of GE Healthcare’s and Microsoft’s individual expertise will drive new insights, solutions and efficiencies to further advance the two companies’ shared vision of a connected, patient-centric healthcare system,” said Jeffrey R. Immelt, GE's chairman and CEO.

“High quality affordable healthcare is one of the biggest challenges facing every nation, but it’s also an area where technology can make a huge difference,” added Steve Ballmer, CEO of Microsoft. “Combining Microsoft’s open, interoperable health platforms and software expertise with GE’s experience and healthcare solutions will create exciting opportunities for patients and healthcare providers alike."

[See also: Microsoft enters healthcare IT market.]

The new firm's performance management suite is slated to feature products such as:

  • Amalga, Microsoft's enterprise health intelligence platform;
  • Vergence, its single sign-on and context management solution;
  • Microsoft expreSSO, an enterprise single sign-on solution;
  • GE Healthcare's eHealth HIE; and
  • Qualibria, GE Heathcare's clinical knowledge application environment, which is being developed in cooperation with Intermountain Healthcare and Mayo Clinic

GE Healthcare and Microsoft will each maintain a strong presence in the healthcare IT industry in addition to the new venture, officials say, as each organization continues to sell other products and services to healthcare organizations around the globe.

The new company’s products seek to improve the data-sharing and care coordination needed to attack critical problems in the healthcare system today such as healthcare associated Infections (HAIs) and chronic disease management.

“Improving the quality of healthcare through innovative collaboration is a goal that we share with GE Healthcare and Microsoft," said C. Michel Harper, MD, executive dean for practice at Mayo Clinic. "Working together with others to identify new ways to improve health outcomes and drive down cost is a hallmark of our patient-care philosophy."

Charles S. Sorenson, MD, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare, added that the new company should help drive "powerful advancements in healthcare" and improve the clinical process "by making real-time information available at the point of care."

“The global healthcare challenges of access, cost and quality of care delivery are creating a new focus on the performance and accountability of healthcare delivery systems – in every country, at every level of care," said Immelt. "This venture will demonstrate what is possible when leading companies with complementary capabilities work together to meet a common goal.”

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