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Posts Tagged ‘Amalga UIS’

On Monday, New Zealand based Orion Health announced that it would acquire the mothballed Health Information Services (HIS) assets of Microsoft, Amalga HIS. In the same announcement, Orion and Microsoft also announced a partnership for Microsoft’s healthcare analytics solution Amalga UIS.

Microsoft, during its HIT buying binge days a few years back had picked up the Thai-based HIS company, Global Care Solutions. Global Care Solutions was credited with building the HIS for medical tourism destination Bumrungad hospital in Thailand. While Microsoft tried to quell EHR vendor fears in the US that this HIS solution suite, later rebranded as Amalga HIS, would only be sold overseas and not it the US, most EHR partners chose to put some distance between themselves and Microsoft. Needless to say, this created far more challenges for Microsoft and its still budding healthcare sector initiatives and the company decided to discontinue further investment in Amalga HIS in July 2010, effectively putting it on the market.

Now, over a year later, Microsoft has finally found a buyer for this asset in Orion Health, who, like Microsoft, has stated that it does not intend to sell this solution suite in the US but instead focus on the Australian and Asian markets. Would not be at all surprising if Orion further extended that reach to all Commonwealth countries, which has been the company’s Go-to-Market (GTM) strategy to date. In speaking with Orion yesterday, they reiterated their intentions to not sell this solution suite in the US market.

Seeing as it took Microsoft over a year to unload Amalga HIS, one has to wonder: Was this solution suite poorly architected or was Microsoft asking far more for it than what others were willing to pay? Having been demo’d the solution on a couple of occasions, likely the latter. Which then makes one wonder, so what kind of deal was actually struck? Our guess is that it had a lot to do with the second portion of this press release, that was overlooked by most in the press, the future partnership surrounding Amalga UIS.

Our latest research on the HIE market is pointing to a significant increase in interest in combining the basics of an HIE (getting clinical data flowing) with analytics to deliver better, more informed care and equally important, optimize the operations of a healthcare organization. As the healthcare sector moves from a transaction-based reimbursement model (fee for service) to one based on outcomes (value-based contracts), analytics will play an increasingly critical role. Thus, we are seeing a number of moves in the market, both acquisitions and partnerships, that look to more closely tie what have been two disparate offerings into one cohesive package.

Orion Health does not have a robust analytics solution. Microsoft does not have a robust HIE solution. Bringing the two together could create a powerful offering and potentially put Orion on equal footing with other HIE market leaders that are currently a step ahead of them with regards to analytics, including OptumInsight (former Axolotl + Ingenix), Thomson Reuters and Care Evolution and their HIEBus platform and IBM, who acquired Initiate in 2010. For Microsoft, this also could be a significant win for to date, they have struggled to find a strong Tier One HIE partner – with Orion, they have found such a partner that could juice sales for Amalga UIS.

But this is far from a done deal for as with any partnership, the devil is always in the details. Based on our conversations with both companies, they do appear to be cognizant of the challenges that lay before them. The biggest challenge will be getting Amalga into a form factor that accelerates time to value for those who adopt this solution. To date, the Amalga solution has seen more than its fair share of challenges in the field in this regard. Couple that with the Orion customer base, which is weighted towards public HIEs, and one can foresee some significant GTM challenges for these two companies in the future. Allscripts faced a similar challenge with HIE partner dbMotion. Orion and Microsoft would be wise to look closely at how Allscripts successfully addressed this challenge for their target market.

 

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Been a lot of talk over the last year or so regarding the move to smaller, more modular, substitutable apps (think iPhone) to address healthcare IT sector needs, particularly for providers. This discussion has progressed to the point where HHS, in looking to certify EHRs, is also looking at how these small modular EHR apps might also be certified in the broader context of meaningful use.  Now how the hell HHS and in particular CMS will be able to determine whether or not a provider is using a host of modular HIT apps to meet meaningful use requirements remains a mystery and probably better left for some future post.

Chilmark has been seeing a progressive movement by a number of HIT providers, especially among HIE vendors (Axolotl, Covisint and Medicity) to open up their HIE platform (publish APIs) to potentially support a multitude of modular apps to meet various provider needs.  Basically, these vendors are moving to a Platform as a Service (PaaS) model, each taking a slightly different spin on a PaaS that will likely require Chilmark to produce a separate report to explore further.  What is important though for this industry is that this is a fairly nascent trend that will likely accelerate in the future.

And today, we can add one more vendor to the PaaS mix, Microsoft, who announced a partnership with EHR vendor, Eclipsys who has built several modular apps (Data Connectivity, Quick Order Entry and Visual Workflow) on top of Microsoft’s Amalga UIS.  Eclipsys will be demonstrating these apps next week at HIMSS.

What’s in it for all Stakeholders:

Microsoft is taking Amalga UIS from simply being a data aggregator/reporting engine to becoming a platform similar to HealthVault thereby making the data that it aggregates actionable by the apps that ride on top of it.  This creates a higher value proposition for Amalga UIS in future deals with large hospitals and IDNs.

Eclipsys & other HIT vendors now have an opportunity to enter accounts that may have been dominated by large, monolithic solutions from such companies as Cerner and Epic.  It may also provide smaller HIT vendors an ability to rise above the noise and gain some traction in the market.

Hospital CIOs & end users will no longer be strictly tied to only those apps provided by their core HIT vendor(s), but may now be able to “flex-in” certain “best-of-breed” apps as needed to meet specific internal needs/requirements.  In our briefing call with Microsoft yesterday, Microsoft stated that the Amalga UIS APIs will also be made available to customers allowing them to build their own apps, further increasing the utlity of Amalga UIS.

Sounds great, doesn’t it?

On the surface yes, but there are certainly risks, primary among them…

How will the hospital CIO and IT staff manage a multitude of these modular apps over time?  Yes, small modular apps give one flexibility and the opportunity to use best-of-breed apps but managing such can be become incredibly resource intensive and ultimately negate any net benefit.  There is also the issue of having “one throat to choke.”  When you have one or even just a selet few vendors, if anything goes wrong, it is easy to just put the pressure of them to fix it.  Not so easy when you may be using 20 or more modular apps from 15 or more vendors.

Next week at HIMSS, one of our research goals is to better understand the PaaS trend in healthcare from both the perspective of end users and vendors.  We’ll keep you posted.

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Today, Microsoft announced that it will be acquiring the healthcare IT security software firm Sentillion. This is Microsoft Health Solutions Group’s biggest acquisition to date and will add critical security features to their clinician centric solution Amalga UIS.

Chilmark Research sees this as a very savvy acquisition that will further extend the capabilities and thus market opportunities for Microsoft in the healthcare sector. For example, in the hot market for Health Information Exchanges (HIE), managing security access across multiple entities within a given region is challenging – the Sentillion suite of security solutions will slot into this market need quite readily. For Sentillion, this is also a good move has it provides them to backing, resources and distribution channel to truly take their solution suite global far faster than if they attempted to do it organically.

Mr. HIStalk had the opportunity to to interview both MSFT and Sentillion and has a good summary write-up on the acquisition as well.

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