I was thinking that Microsoft was going to follow a more infrastructure oriented approach like other vendors. Even when I read that they have acquired a healthcare informatics company that has its own hospital information system, I was expecting that system to be transformed into some form of Microsoft Healthcare Framework, but it appears MS is taking a bold step, and entering the hospital information system market directly.
People, this is big news! It is quite interesting that I do not see many news about this, but Microsoft is the only large vendor that I know of, who is providing a HIS directly to the market. So far, MS has been a technology supplier for many healthcare solutions, and they have invested heavily in healthcare. It appears they are using a different strategy here; instead of waiting for the ISVs to build a solution based on their tech, just give them a head start by giving a complete product, and let them work on it. Not that the ISVs have not been able to do it, but appearantly they have decided to take things under control, and maybe increase the pace adoption of MS technologies in healthcare.
The thing is; this will kind of going to make a large set of functionality “common commodity”, which means it will be quite expensive and unnecassary to build a significant portion of HIS and related products for ISVs, unless they have a really good reason. I really wonder what is going to happen here. If MS keeps investing in this direction, this might give a lot of competitors a hard time, because efficient integration between front end products, and backend products has been the primary advantage of MS in many scenarios. If the same thing happens in healthcare, this might change some existing dynamics between technology vendors, ISVs and users in healthcare informatics.
I should add that I still believe that the feature of healthcare informatics will be in domain specific language oriented tools, highly specialized and supported by vendors. OHF, being supported by IBM, seems to be a step in this direction, and MS can shift gear when they introduce some kind of healthcare framework. I truly believe that at some point, HL7 or OpenEHR oriented development tools with emphasis on domain specific languages will emerge, and they will have a significant effect on healhtcare IT. I guess this is something that I should write about in a post on its own.