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Microsoft Pulls Plug on Amalga HIS

by John Moore | July 22, 2010

Today, Microsoft officially announced that it is shutting down operations and sales for Amalga HIS.  Amalga HIS was the former Global 2000 EMR that Microsoft acquired roughly two years ago. Global 2000’s claim to fame was being the EMR for the major medical tourism hospital, Bumrungad International, based in Thailand.

I never liked the acquisition of Global 2000 for a few simple reasons:

1) Despite “low adoption of EMR” systems, the EMR market is actually a fairly mature market.  Most hospitals have an EMR already and it is not easy to dispace such – much like chipping out concrete. The “adoption problem” rests more with poor implementation and use, at least in the acute care market, which was the sweet spot for Amalga HIS.

2) Though Microsoft claimed that Amalga HIS would only be sold overseas, primarily in APAC, this acquisition put many an EMR company on alert to be careful working with Microsoft for Microsoft may change its mind at some future date and become a competitor in their backyard.  This hinders Microsoft’s ability to develop closer partnerships with these vendors, which Microsoft admitted was the case in a call with them earlier today.

3) The EMR market is a very messy, competitive market with far too many vendors.  The last thing it needs is another acute care EMR solution, even if it did come from a heavyweight such as Microsoft.  Also, one would have thought that Microsoft learned from its previous mis-steps in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) market (very similar in many respects to EMR), where it made several acquisitions, but the return on that investment is less than stellar.

4) The EMR market, being messy, mature, etc., is not a market where one can truly be disruptive.  But once that data starts being collected and begins to have some structure, then the application of analytics and reporting to better understand operations and how to ultimately improve them, is a higher order of value that will be of high interest to healthcare organizations, both large and small. This is a disruptive opportunity. Now that we have a major push to drive adoption and use of EMRs/EHRs, that data will increasingly become available for solutions such as Microsoft’s Amalga UIS.  Microsoft can now focus its resources on this disruptive opportunity, rather than waste resources on an EHR.

It now appears that Microsoft has come to the same conclusion.  Thankfully, Microsoft is not leaving dozens of hospitals in the lurch.  Actually, Amalga HIS has only six customers today and those customers will receive support for the next five years.  After that they will be on their own, but Microsoft has assured me that they are working with third party vendors and service providers to insure that these customers will receive continued support in the future.

One take away from all of this:
Performing a viability assessment on a potential vendor may not reduce one’s risk. Even a big, viable company such as Microsoft may change its mind on occassion and chose to exit a market.

Stay up to the minute.

“As biometric data becomes cheaper and easier to collect through smart sensors, devices, and mobile apps, expect to see more innovations in consumer health.”

-Alicia Vergaras