Microsoft buys health-care software company

Microsoft's plan to buy Sentillion could help it take advantage of a potential boom in health-care technology spending

Microsoft plans to buy health-care software maker Sentillion for an undisclosed sum in order to expand its own health-care offerings and capitalize on an upcoming opportunity for new sales.

Microsoft hopes to combine Sentillion’s technology with its own Amalga Unified Intelligence System in order to offer clinicians more information about patients in real time, it said. Sentillion will continue to sell its products separately to new and existing customers.

Sentillion, a privately held company, offers a couple of products including a single sign-on product.

“If you were to go into a hospital you’d find that caregivers are spending inordinate amounts of time signing into applications with different user names and passwords,” said Paul Roscoe, president of Sentillion. It’s not uncommon for a physician to log into different systems more than 60 times a day, he said.

Sentillion’s single sign-on product lets a physician sign in once and then be able to access a variety of applications that may be Web-based, Windows-based or built on legacy systems.

It also offers a context management feature so that once a physician is signed on and has looked up records on one system for a specific patient, when the physician switches to another system, it will automatically display that same patient’s records.

Sentillion’s products are used in 1,000 hospitals.

Microsoft’s Amalga software integrates clinical, administrative and financial information and is used by more than 115 hospitals.

It allows a physician, quality control person or financial analyst to look for information across patients, said Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of Microsoft’s health solutions group. For example, a physician could look for the outcome after six days of the use of a certain drug by female patients admitted to the emergency department, he said.

Amalga also helps physicians be more proactive. Rather than relying on patients who might be managing a chronic condition to know when to schedule a screening or know whether they are taking the right drugs, a doctor can proactively reach out to those patients.

At the Mayo Clinic, a set of case managers now get a list of people who they need to communicate with that is generated from Amalga.

Combining Amalga with Sentillion’s products will result in products that enhance caregivers' abilities to be proactive by making it easier to access even more information, he said.

The acquisition may help Microsoft shore up its offerings just in time for a potential boom in hospital investments in technology.

The government earlier this year passed a US$38 billion bill designed to make it easier for hospitals to invest in technology, Neupert said. That money is expected to start flowing in the second half of next year, he said.

Sentillion will continue to operate from its headquarters in Andover, Massachusetts. Microsoft expects the deal to close early next year.

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