One of the big announcements during HIMSS last February was Microsoft’s acquisition of a company specializing in medical search. That company is called MedStory. Recently, I caught up with MedStory founder and CEO, Dr. Alain Rappaport, M.D., Ph.D., for a conversation about his company and why he decided to join forces with Microsoft.
Prior to founding MedStory, Dr. Rappaport was the co-founder, president and chief scientist for Neuron Data, a world leader in artificial intelligence and other business-critical software components. That Dr. Rappaport’s roots are embedded in the science of artificial intelligence made all the more sense as we discussed his vision for MedStory.
Dr. Rappaport likened the healthcare industry today to that of American manufacturing in the 80’s. All of us old enough to remember will recall that the American automobile companies and other manufacturers were getting clobbered by much more nimble competitors overseas (particularly the Japanese) who started using computers and technology to optimize the supply chain and their manufacturing processes. American manufacturers have now narrowed the gap. Productivity has improved and they are turning out higher quality products, but we continue to pay a price for falling behind in the 80’s. According to Dr. Rappaport, American healthcare is now where manufacturing was in the 80’s, and the time for change is upon us.
Realizing that healthcare is an industry that is driven by information, Dr. Rappaport turned his attention to improving how consumers and clinicians alike will find the information they need. It is not enough, he says, to provide links to information. Search engines must become intelligent enough to understand a user’s intent. “We need a web that knows versus one that just links”, said Dr. Rappaport. “We are moving the center of gravity of search to return an understanding of what the user wants. Our core objective is to provide meaningful information that is also actionable.”
Asked why he decided to team up with Microsoft, Dr. Rappaport said it was the opportunity to engage with customers and partners all around the world who are now coming forward to help us innovate and use this technology. “Even in parts of the world where populations are medically underserved, providing relevant and timely information, will make a difference”, he said.
I, for one, very much agree. I’m thrilled to have Dr. Rappaport and his distinguished colleagues join us here at Microsoft on our mission to improve the quality and safety of patient care, and the satisfaction of those giving and receiving that care.
Bill Crounse, MD Worldwide Health Director Microsoft Corporation