Monday, October 29, 2007

Microsoft Acquires Global Care Systems from Thailand

Microsoft has just purchased Global Care Solutions (GCS) of Thailand, a company known for its hospital administration software. GCS has been operating for years as a privately held company and works directly with the Bumrungrad International Hospital, a facility that is famed for the volume of multinational tourists it cares for.

Of the various articles about the acquisition I have found, only PC World magazine touches on the aspect most important for those interested in Electronic Medical Records (EMRs):

What makes GCS software special is the amount of specialized record keeping required by Bumrungrad. Doctors at the hospital see over 1.2 million patients each year, including 400,000 foreign patients from 190 countries, meaning varying language, insurance and billing data. Half of the 3,200 patients seen at Bumrungrad each day walk in without an appointment, yet GCS's scheduling software ensures patients wait an average of 17 minutes to see a doctor.

While the software is not in use outside of seven hospitals in the Asia-Pacific region, it is an interesting development and one that could well have ramifications stateside as the debate about Electronic Medical Records continues.

In the meantime the business relationship with Bumrungrad Hospital will continue as will attempts to further develop and refine the existing software solutions. Peter Neupert, vice president for the Health Solutions Group at Microsoft, seemed quite ready to embrace the research and development opportunities the merger represents.

"We now have a partner that's willing to experiment with us," said Neupert. He said future work will include software development as well as experimenting on how RFID (radio frequency identification) can improve hospital care.

Microsoft will focus GCS software sales on hospitals in emerging countries, said Neupert. The software fits well with emerging market hospital needs, requiring just a small investment in computer hardware, he said.

While the stated territory is the Asian Pacific, one must wonder what might evolve from this deal that would be useful here in the States? Any application robust enough to handle a plethora of languages, billing standards, and wide variety of insurance procedures bears watching. A seventeen minute wait for walk-ins to see a doctor? To most people in the U.S., that is quite simply unheard of.

SOURCE: "Microsoft Buys Thai Health Software Vendor" 10/29/07
photo courtesy of TerraPrints used under this Creative Commons license

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