I recently wrote a several page report that took a look at Microsoft’s initiatives in the HIT market. While much too long for posting in a traditional blog format, I have selected the following excerpt titled “Going Long,” which evaluates what appears to be their intention to enter the Personal Health Record (PHR) market.
There is one last area where Microsoft has only recently provided a glimpse of what they are thinking and that is with regards to providing a PHR Web service under the guises of something called Microsoft Health Explorer. Today, Health Explorer is in very early Beta, access provided to only a select and undisclosed group of partners under NDA.
Though difficult to find much information on Microsoft Health Explorer Beta, the following details have emerged. Health Explorer is currently structured into three main components: (1) a secure storage place for health and fitness data that allows users to select which sites and applications can use that data, (2) a platform on which health and fitness applications can be written, and (3) an application to view and control one’s medical and fitness data. It would also not be too surprising to see Microsoft embed MedStory into this environment to provide embedded medical search functionality.
While parts 1 and 3 seem quite logical and relatively simple for Microsoft to create and support, it’s that middle one, number 2 where something interesting could happen. Reading between the lines, and that is about all one can do at this time, it looks like the folks in Redmond want to create a healthcare-centric, on-line ecosystem for the creation of Web 2.0-type applications such as mashups, and SaaS, similar to what Salesforce.com has done with AppExchange within its market.
Is this simply Microsoft’s attempt to preempt a similar move by Google which will occur in the near future? Regardless, of whether or not it is preemptive or simply Microsoft’s desire to get into the rapidly evolving and yet to be proven PHR market, it is a bold and risky move on their part, though probably not an expensive one at this time. Let’s call this bet a $10. chip on a single number at the Roulette table. If it succeeds, it will be huge but the odds are stacked against it.