Caradigm, A Microsoft and GE healthcare joint venture
Microsoft and General Electric team up to form a joint venture, Caradigm to modernize health care technology which will increase care efficiency and cut costs.
Caradigm is a 50-50 joint venture formed by two of world’s largest companies: Microsoft and General Electric. It brings together Microsoft’s strengths in developing large-scale data platforms with GE Healthcare’s expertise in building health-care applications.
“The combination of people and technology from GE Healthcare and Microsoft will allow us to drive the dramatic change that is needed in healthcare,” Caradigm CEO Michael Simpson said. “We can offer innovative healthcare solutions, including an open platform and tools that enable software developers around the world to address the complexities of population health today.”
He also said a smaller joint-venture company would be able to act more nimbly than two giant companies.
The words “Care” and “Paradigm” combine to form Caradigm, which aims to provide services using which different health-care systems and information from those systems can work with and relate to each other. This will assist doctors, hospitals and patients to effectively manage health care records and related information from a dizzying array of outside databases.
A particular patient’s complete medical information is in one place and this will aid health care providers to quickly steer a patient towards appropriate care and lessen the need for repeated visits.
The HITECH Act of 2009 offers incentives for hospitals and physicians to use electronic health records. This is a big step taken up by the U.S government to revolutionize the health care facilities in the country.
But just digitizing the information creates different repositories of data leading to medical records being separate from analytical tools. This boils down to a possible major problem, one company’s offerings being unable to work with another company’s.
Caradigm contributes to creating a layer that brings all that data together which allows easier data sharing and permits clinicians to aggregate data so they can learn from it and use it strategically.
“Caradigm creates the big umbrella to bring all those repositories together” Simpson said.
Microsoft brought Amalga, a platform that allows health-care organizations to pull data from the hundreds of systems which a typical hospital uses and amalgamate them into a common database.
It also brought Vergence, which allows caregivers to log in to different systems in the context of a single patient.
GE Healthcare brought eHealth, a health-information exchange that connects multiple systems across a community and Qualibria, which allows caretakers to obtain and share best practices and build them into an organization’s work flow.
Neal Singh, Caradigm chief technology officer said that Caradigm is combining Amalga, eHealth and Qualibria into one platform, standardized on the Amalga platform.
Dr. Dick Gibson, chief health-care intelligence officer at Providence Health & Services, based in Seattle, says Providence has been using Amalga for the past year and a half and “It’s one of the first products I’ve seen that puts real patient data from a hospital in front of a clinician in real time”.
According to Mr. Mark Anderson, CEO of Strategic News Service, a technology-analysis firm, services like Amalga are very much needed.
He says, “The amount of information that doctors should have compared to what doctors do have today would shock the pants off anyone”.
“They each want their own silos to work,” Anderson said. “They’re all building vertical things: You buy this thing of mine; you should buy the other thing of mine. They consider it a competitive advantage to not share.”
“One of the benefits of having two big kids (Microsoft and GE Healthcare) come to the playground is that they probably have the muscle to make a common platform for sharing medical records stick”, he said.
Ben Loop, senior director of analytics at Siemens Healthcare, which offers its own health-care IT solutions, said the problem, as he sees it is that, “The industry is moving so quickly that it might not make sense to have another proprietary layer like that.”
He suggested the possibility where interoperability and data-sharing standards may become so open that a layer such as Caradigm may not be needed.
In that case, health-care IT will “probably run on open standards, rather than go with their hat in hand to a data aggregator and interpreter like Caradigm,” he said.
A Caradigm spokeswoman said that such open standards might most probably take a long time before becoming a reality. “True seamless integration remains elusive in health care,” she said. “The unique and highly flexible underpinnings of Amalga allow organizations to move forward today, enabling them to get the intelligence needed to make positive impact right now without waiting for standards that may take years to complete.”
With Google having backed down from the thorny problem of trying to negotiate the complexities of the health care industry, Microsoft has secured this ground for time being. Microsoft must be appreciated for its willingness to make a plan and stick to it in this era.