My last post covered the opportunity I had to meet with Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in a small group setting. He said a couple of things about healthcare that I though were noteworthy.
Firstly, he said that Microsoft develops technologies that are intended to be used across all industries. He said they were a horizontal software company. But, he went on to say that healthcare is the one vertical that is fragmented among many software providers. Since there are no SAPs, Microsoft is making investments in this industry.
- Epic is nearly reaching the point of having the same market clout as an SAP (maybe they are at Lawson status).
- Microsoft might want to examine why that is the case and what happened to all of the other big companies that thought healthcare would be low hanging fruit for a big company (IBM, Alltel, American Express, Siemens and Ameritech come to mind). Healthcare is complicated.
Ballmer also talked about Microsoft HealthVault. While he was clearly a believer in a web-based Personal Health Record for patients (PHR) he wondered out loud how Microsoft would make any money doing this. Clearly a question he has asked without getting a satisfactory answer. Even when I suggested that the EHR incentives from the federal stimulus bill would bring new opportunities he did not sound optimistic about the contributions that investment would bring to the bottom line.
My next post will be on Ballmer’s advice for CIOs, which I loved.