It’s clear that Microsoft is buckling down to weather a potentially extended economic storm. This is a first time for the Microsoft community, and it has a lot of folks freaked out, especially here in Redmond where friends and coworkers are directly affected. At the same time, it’s pretty clear that it is the right business choice for the company, and it’s likely to have a positive impact on the organization overall. Not easy, not fun, but the responsible thing to do.
But what about our little Health Solutions Group? I’ve had a number of people contact me in the last two days asking what this news means for Amalga, for HealthVault, and broadly for our commitment to Healthcare. After all, we aren’t Windows over here; we are still in the investment phase of our business.
The short answer is – we’re fine, we’re strong and we’re more optimistic than ever about the great things we are doing and the business we are building in health.
The longer answer is – this is exactly why we started this business at Microsoft. This is a unique company, with a leadership team that knows how to make a good bet and stick with it. It took fourteen years for Word to become the world’s dominant word processor. We know how to stay on target.
When we entered this business, we didn’t know we’d run square into a worldwide economic crisis. But we did know that solving problems in health was going to take time, and we knew we had to create an environment where partners could get comfortable making their bets on us. We’ve been saying this since we launched, but recent events illustrate the point in a dramatic way – Microsoft is one of a very, very few organizations in the position to deliver the kind of infrastructure that the healthcare industry needs to move forward.
So what has changed? For the health of our industry, our partners, our country and the world – we believe a higher sense of urgency about our mission is essential. It is time to set aside the ridiculous arguments about standards and the crazy idea that data lock-in is a strategy for customer retention. We are marshalling our resources to deliver users and use cases — real instances of real value that we can all point to and say, “Do more of that!”
If you are a hospital or doctor — Join or start an HIE, especially one that gets data into emergency rooms. Give your patients a copy of their chart and discharge notes, electronically if you can but on paper if you can’t. ePrescribe!
If you are a citizen — Get your family’s medical information online where it can be used in an emergency or natural disaster. Make a real attempt to get healthier — lose a few pounds, stop smoking, check your blood pressure, exercise your heart.
If you are an entrepreneur — Find new ways to use data to make things more efficient, more accurate, more effective. We need more reasons to build data assets, both inside and outside of institutional walls. Lean on free infrastructure services like HealthVault and Google Health to get to market quickly and efficiently.
If you make policy — Don’t slow us down with endless debate and forced standards. Reward outcomes, however they happen. Require and facilitate data exchange and transparency. Invest in programs to make citizens healthy.