GE, Microsoft to Launch Joint Venture Aimed at Global Healthcare System Transformation

MicrosoftGeneral Electric Co. (NYSE: GE), through its healthcare IT business, and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq "MSFT") announced plans to create a joint venture aimed at helping healthcare organizations and professionals use real-time, systemwide intelligence to improve healthcare quality and the patient experience. Upon formation, the new company will develop and market an open, interoperable technology platform and innovative clinical applications focused on enabling better population health management to improve outcomes and the overall economics of health and wellness.

As healthcare providers and payers around the globe shift from episodic single-patient care to continuous population management, new requirements have emerged for integrated care processes, greater insight and engaging patient experiences. These delivery system reforms, including a shift toward new payment models, require healthcare providers to address gaps and integrate data across silos of care delivery to help enable better care coordination and performance improvement.

This new joint venture will combine Microsoft's deep expertise in building platforms and ecosystems with GE Healthcare's experience in clinical and administrative workflow solutions, empowering healthcare professionals and organizations with the intelligence and capabilities to respond to the rapidly evolving and complex healthcare landscape.

"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, chairman and CEO of GE. "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. This venture will demonstrate what is possible when leading companies with complementary capabilities work together to meet a common goal."

The new company will deliver a distinctive, open platform that will give healthcare providers and independent software vendors the ability to develop a new generation of clinical applications. The venture will develop healthcare applications on the platform using in-house developers and the platform will connect with a wide range of healthcare IT products. GE Healthcare IT will immediately be able to connect existing products to the platform, helping current customers to derive new insights.

"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," said 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. Working together, GE and Microsoft can help make healthcare systems more intelligent and cost efficient while improving patient care."

The two parent companies bring complementary expertise to this new venture and will contribute intellectual property, including the following:

  • Microsoft Amalga, an enterprise health intelligence platform
  • Microsoft Vergence, a single sign-on and context management solution
  • Microsoft expreSSO, an enterprise single sign-on solution
  • GE Healthcare eHealth, a Health Information Exchange
  • GE Healthcare Qualibria, a clinical knowledge application environment being developed in cooperation with Intermountain Healthcare (Salt Lake City, Utah) and Mayo Clinic

The long-term vision of the venture is to create new value by offering a healthcare performance management suite that includes many of these products.

In addition to the new joint venture, GE Healthcare and Microsoft will each maintain a strong presence in the healthcare IT industry, as both parent organizations will continue to sell other products and services to healthcare organizations around the globe.

"Improving the quality of healthcare through innovative collaboration is a goal that we share with GE Healthcare and Microsoft. Working together with others to identify new ways to improve health outcomes and drive down cost is a hallmark of our patient-care philosophy," said C. Michel Harper, M.D., executive dean for Practice, Mayo Clinic. "We're pleased to see healthcare IT companies embrace this same idea and come together in new ways. We look forward to seeing the progress this new endeavor will bring in medicine."

"Intermountain Healthcare and GE have a strong history and partnership in developing and advancing transformational healthcare information technologies," stated Charles S. Sorenson, MD, president and chief executive officer of Intermountain Healthcare. "Our common vision is driving powerful advancements in healthcare and improving the clinical work process by making real-time information available at the point of care. We look forward to continuing our efforts to further these principles, achieving our combined objectives, and putting these important technologies into practice."

The new company's products and services will provide the information and insight required to help address many critical problems in the healthcare system today, including these:

  • Healthcare associated infections. In the U.S. alone, an estimated 1.7 million healthcare associated infections occur annually, resulting in $35 billion in additional healthcare costs(1,2) and the loss of nearly 100,000 lives.(3) By pulling together data from disparate IT systems, identifying those patients most at risk for a given HAI, and surfacing guidelines and protocols within provider workflow, the solutions will enable healthcare organizations to more effectively deploy their resources and deliver better care at lower costs.
  • Chronic disease management. According to the Centers for Disease Control, about 133 million Americans (nearly half of all adults) live with at least one chronic illness and most chronic diseases require a lifetime of ongoing care.(4) To help patients and their physicians work together more efficiently to manage chronic conditions, the platform and applications will support the sharing of data from at-home medical devices (such as blood pressure cuffs, scales and glucometers) with caregivers to facilitate better tracking of chronic conditions, coordination of treatment schedules, management of medication regimens and timely interventions.

The new venture complements the existing offerings from both parent companies and is expected to yield job growth in its first five years of existence. It will operate globally, offering interoperability platforms and application solutions targeting both healthcare providers and payers. Michael J. Simpson, vice president and general manager at GE Healthcare IT, will serve as the company's CEO.

The new company, which has yet to be named, will be headquartered near the Microsoft campus in Redmond, Wash., with significant presence in Salt Lake City, Utah, and additional cities around the world.

Launch of the new joint venture is subject to customary conditions, including regulatory approvals, and is expected in the first half of 2012.

Related news articles:

About GE Healthcare
GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Our broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services help our customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, we partner with healthcare leaders, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable healthcare systems.

About Microsoft in Health
Microsoft is committed to improving health around the world through software innovation. Over the past 16 years, Microsoft has steadily increased its investments in health, with a focus on addressing the challenges of health providers, health and social services organizations, payers, consumers and life sciences companies worldwide. Microsoft closely collaborates with a broad ecosystem of partners and develops its own powerful health solutions, such as Microsoft Amalga and Microsoft HealthVault. Together, Microsoft and its industry partners are working to deliver health solutions that enable better health outcomes for more people.

About Microsoft
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq "MSFT") is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

1. Scott, D. R. The Direct Medical Costs of HAIs in US Hospitals and the Benefits of Prevention, CDC [Online.] http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dhqp/pdf/Scott_CostPaper.pdf
2. Fuller, R. et. al. Estimating the Costs of Potential Preventable HACs, Healthcare Financing Review. Vol. 30, No. 4 [Online.] http://www.cms.gov/HealthCareFinancingReview/downloads/09SummerPg17.pdf
3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Vital Statistics (2009).
4. Wu SY, Green A. Projection of chronic illness prevalence and cost inflation. Santa Monica, CA: RAND Health; 2000.

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