Ballmer: Healthcare is our greatest opportunity

by Matt Asay

I'm not at the HIMSS Conference today, but Steve Ballmer was, and delivered the opening keynote. Scott Shreeve was there and captured some of Ballmer's more notable statements:
  1. Healthcare is "the greatest opportunity that Microsoft has ever had in its 30 years of existence."
  2. Microsoft plans to "leverage ALL their hardware, software, and creativity toward solving healthcare related problems". He promised that Microsoft would "apply" itself fully to solving this problem.
  3. Azyxxi, a proprietary enterprise Electronic Health Record company that Microsoft purchased last summer, is "the most exciting software that Microsoft is working on" right now. Ballmer described Azyxxi as a "unified healthcare information technology platform".
Wow. That's a lot of superlatives to find in one place. It's especially intriguing because Ballmer isn't any ordinary speaker - he knows that everything he says is carefully noted and will be remembered. As such, he can't afford to waste superlatives.

His recent comments that he worries more about disruptive business models than specific competitors (a sentiment I suggested back in the first half of 2005), and that open source is one of its biggest threats (though I think it's an opportunity), added to these healthcare statements make you wonder:

If Microsoft's biggest threat is open source, and it's biggest opportunity is health care, then wouldn't an open source healthcare company be its biggest competitor?

Like, maybe, MedSphere?



2007-02-26 17:58:28
This could give a whole new meaning to the blue screen of death...
2007-02-26 18:03:08

It's interesting you bring up MedSphere, as the merit of its claim of being the "leading provider of Open Source software for the healthcare industry" seems pretty up-in-the-air currently.

Regardless of specifics regarding exactly how much open source software they provide to the community, their recent actions imply that they may be more interested in being _seen_ as open source providers than _being_ valuable members of the medical open source community. It seems that if the Shreeves had things their way, the company would likely be making the right choices regarding open source, but it doesn't look the founders are in charge any more. Hopefully, MedSphere will amend its behavior, but until then, I certainly wouldn't trust them, nor would I want them as my electronic health record provider.

2007-02-27 14:37:47
Thanks for this explanation of why health care costs will continue to spiral upwards.
2007-02-27 19:40:52
Hmm... More interesting news on MedSphere, again mentioned on linuxmednews, this time a bit more positive. I must admit I really don't know what to think. Does anyone know whether MedSphere is still suing the Shreeves?