Despite being the world’s most powerful IT company, Microsoft has been rather a late entrant into mainstream health IT domain. However, over last few years, it has substantially enhanced its capabilities for the healthcare industry and steadily emerging as a dominant player through focused approach and some strategic acquisitions.
Matt Campbell, Director – Healthcare Solutions Group (APAC), Microsoft, provided a deep insight into the technological prowess and growth strategy of the company in a candid interview with eHEALTH in the sidelines of HIMSS Asiapac 09 in Kuala Lumpur.
Currently, healthcare industry across the region seems to be in a race to catch up with IT uptake and technology adoption. What has been your observation in this regard and what do you think are the reasons behind this lag?
Transforming healthcare is a complex problem with no easy answer and certainly no quick-fix solution. With the Asia Pacific region experiencing increasing challenges and escalating healthcare costs, healthcare organizations are continually threatened by an insufficient allocation of technology, resources, and capabilities for their efforts.
Technology has a very real and proven ability to drive transformationarming healthcare workers, plan administratorsand most importantly, consumers, with the best knowledge for real-time collaboration and decision making. We believe this will chart the path to better, more efficient healthcare outcomes.
At Microsoft, we firmly believe in software’s ability to make a positive impact on the healthcare ecosystem worldwide. However, no one company can solve it alone. We are taking the long view in our approach to enabling transformation across the healthcare system – it will be a marathon vs. a sprint.
Microsoft’s acquisition of Global Care Solutions is supposed to substantially expand healthcare capabilities for the company and create superior customer value. What are your comments on this?
The acquisition of GCS complements Microsoft’s already strong portfolio of health solutions and will provide hospitals across international markets with a new alternative to achieve improved workflow and patient safety through information technology.
GCS’s impressive state-of-the-art health information system has enabled complex facilities such as the Bumrungrad International hospital in Bangkok achieve amazing outcomes related to improved workflow and patient safety. The fully integrated nature of GCS solutions, and the fact that it is built from the ground up on scalable Microsoft technology, makes this a great addition to our portfolio of health enterprise products as we look to power developing and emerging hospital systems around the globe. Our solution has allowed the Bumrungrad facility manage scheduling demands, multiple languages and medical records so efficiently that the average waiting time to see a doctor is only 17 minutes.
Till now, Bumrungrad International-Bangkok was the most widely known success story of Microsoft in Asian region. How do you foresee your business prospects in near future?
The success of Bumrungrad is a sterling example that we foresee other hospitals and medical facilities modeling their technology deployments on. The synergies between GCS solutions and Microsoft’s health solution portfolio and the future innovations will further strengthen the product offering to new and existing customers globally. After acquiring GCS our success story also extend to 6 other customers in Asia outside of Bumrungrad International. We have HIS systems installed at Franco-Vietnamese Hospital in Vietnam, Asian Hospital in the Philippines, Assunta Hospital in Malaysia and recently, the Temerloh Hospital in Thailand. In addition to this, we have been very successful in the Singapore market with Changi General, KK Women and Children’s and Singapore General Hospital with a combination of PACS systems, medical records document imaging, and image distribution for the SingHealth cluster of hospitals and polyclinics covering 49% of Singapore healthcare.
The recent launch of Microsoft Amalga promises a new beginning in enterprise healthcare solution. What technological and functional specialties are built-in Amalga, and how does it bring in a differential advantage over other solutions?
Microsoft Amalga Family of Health Enterprise Systems consists of a portfolio of enterprise-class health solutions that provides rich integration, giving clinicians and executives quick access to valuable, up-to-the-minute information across their health enterprise. The clear winners are doctors, administrators, and patients.
Microsoft Amalga provides a powerful, truly seamless system that can deliver quick, high-quality data to any department, which, in turn, can help hospitals increase patient turnaround time and enhance the patient experience. Integration also improves data integrity between different systems, can reduce transcription errors and duplication of data entry, and optimises report turnaround. The system fully supports paperless, integrated workflows and facilitates easy access to patient medical information and order, scheduling, and study information.
The Amalga family is built on widely used and supported Microsoft products to deliver important benefits, including security, high availability, scalability and full audit capabilities. Amalga also offers simplified deployment and improved supportability through streamlined administration, configuration and self-service tools for users.
The major bottleneck for mass adoption of Health IT is the ‘technology averseness’ of doctors. Does Microsoft have plans to increase technology friendliness of doctors through education programs?
One major reason for the bottleneck is the healthcare industry’s own conservative attitude and reluctance to change. For example, it currently takes 17 years for a new drug to be fully approved. It does not help that the advancement in healthcare is often inextricably tied to a government’s agenda, which puts additional consideration in areas like political sensitivity, employment issues and so on, giving greater reason for highly conservative attitude.
At Microsoft, we believe that we are in a unique position to deliver solutions that span from the hospital to the physician’s office to the patient’s home. Our willingness to partner with other leading industry vendors further expands the reach of the Microsoft platform in health IT. With a friendly, consistent user experience and rich set of services, we believe that doctors will more readily accept Microsoft-based healthcare solutions than older, legacy products.
As mentioned before, we are taking a long term view in our approach and it will require significant effort to inform and educate healthcare providers about our solutions. Our participation in events such as HIMSS are an example of the kind of outreach that we will engage in over the next several years.