In a move that dramatically steps up its focus on healthcare IT, Microsoft has agreed to acquire software that can integrate data from hundreds of sources and make it available to doctors electronically.
Microsoft said it planned to update the Azyxxi software, developed at MedStar Health's Washington Hospital Center in Washington, so it could be used in hospitals worldwide.
Under the agreement with MedStar, two developers of Azyxxi and 40 members of the hospital's software development team will join Microsoft. The development team would continue to work in Washington, Microsoft said.
Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed. The deal is expected to close this month.
Director of the Institute for Medical Informatics at Washington Hospital Center, Craig Feied, said Azyxxi functioned as an air traffic control system for hospitals to solve the biggest problem facing doctors and nurses: a lack of access to critical data needed to make decisions about patient care.
"In the past, medicine and hospitals didn't know very much about software and informatics, and big companies like Microsoft didn't know much about healthcare," he said. "Going forward, we expect a blurring of those lines."
Azyxxi works as a repository for all of a patient's routine clinical information including EKGs, scanned documents, CT scans, X-rays, MRI scans and ultrasound images.
IDC analyst, Scott Tiazkun, said Microsoft was the latest large IT vendor to begin a strong push into the healthcare business by offering tools to providers, insurance companies and regional medical groups looking to digitise patient data and ease the process of exchanging that information.
Peter Neupert will oversee development of the Azyxxi software as corporate vice-president of Microsoft's newly formed Health Solutions Group. He declined to provide a timetable for commercialising the product.