In Star Trek, the Next Generation, the virtually insurmountable evil force in the Universe is the Borg, whose famous line to all who resist is:
Resistance is futile, you will be assimilated.
To some extent, that is the impression I walk away with from my attendance at the Microsoft Connected Health Conference. That indeed, Microsoft and its Health Solutions Group (HSG) has indeed been assimilated by the healthcare sector.
Now this is not necessarily a bad thing for Microsoft or the broader market but it does signal some important changes within the organization and more broadly confirms the strategy implied in recent announcements. Primary among them is Microsoft HSG’s migration from an early consumer-centric strategy to an enterprise strategy. Yes, HSG will continue to stand behind the consumer’s right to their health data and the consumer’s right to share that data with whom the consumer deems appropriate, but no longer is Microsoft interested in drawing the consumer to HealthVault, rather, Microsoft will go to market directly targeting large enterprises, currently providers, ideally selling them a combination package of Amalga UIS and HealthVault as in the case of the recent New York Presbyterian announcement.
This makes a whole lot of sense for a few reasons:
First, there is a compelling business model and money to be made selling this solution suite to large provider networks and on the international level, countries with a national eHealth infrastructure (e.g., Australia or Finland where EMR adoption is over 90%). Note: Chilmark will write a separate, follow-on post addressing HealthVault in the international market.
Second, signing on providers facilitates getting data flowing through the healthcare system (data liquidity) and into consumer HealthVault accounts thereby creating value for consumers and secondary traction in the consumer market.
Third, signing on big names in the healthcare space such as Cleveland Clinic, K-P, Mayo Clinic, MedStar, NY Presbyterian and Partners Healthcare (their Connected for Health Grp) establishes credibility in the provider market and by extension may increase physician acceptance and adoption of consumer-controlled health record accounts.
But by assimilation, HSG may also become vulnerable to becoming staid and dare I say boring, which may result in not attracting the best and the brightest developers out there in the market to create new, elegant apps.
Sitting in the audience of some 600 people at this event I was struck by the average age that looked to be approaching 40yrs old. Looking around I wondered where are all the young, hot shot developers that are really pushing the envelop with exciting, new and dynamic apps? Where is the buzz? Where is the excitement? Where is that effusive energy of hope and change? Unfortunately I did not see much of that here.
Making matters worse were some of the presentations I sat in on that were given by various provider partners. In one session that discussed leveraging HealthVault’s Connection Center for biometric remote monitoring, I was struck by just how horrid the user interfaces (UIs) were that these healthcare providers developed for their patients. Seriously, these were b*tt ugly. Is this really representative of what HealthVault is capable of? Of course not, but one walks out of such a session just shaking their head wondering how can we move away from dated presentation constructs to new models of engagement.
From what was on display at this event, it does not look like we’ll find those new constructs blossoming forth from the existing healthcare borg.
HSG has done an amazing job in their relative short history in the healthcare sector and Peter and his team have much to be proud of. Clearly, they will be a growing, influential force in the health and life sciences sector.
But as their presence and influence grows, it is Chilmark’s hope that HSG does not lose sight of the disruptors that will enter the healthcare sector. As Mark Smith, head of the California Health Care Foundation stated earlier today in his keynote:
…travel agents did not push for Expedia, tellers did not push for ATMs…
Microsoft would be wise to keep that lesson front of mind and in future event(s) foster an opportunity for those disruptors to take center stage.
Couple of posts from others you may find interesting:
David Harlow who spoke with Peter Neupert on conference call from event.