Microsoft recently purchased Rosetta Biosoftware from Merck & Co. for its Amalga Life Science platform; with this move, Microsoft is starting to differentiate itself from its competition by offering its integrated information solutions, which include HealthVault, Amalga UIS and Amalga Life Sciences, to both providers and producers. In its crosshairs are huge budgets available from Pharma for infrastructure solutions for drug R&D and clinical trials. Microsoft is posed to attract a whole new audience of customers from Pharma to integrated health systems that have their own research entities. If done correctly, Microsoft’s new strategy could become a model for improving the efficiency of clinical research, by drastically reducing the most costly resource needed for clinical trials, time.
The current Amalga UIS is fundamentally what I like to call a PDA (no not Public Display of Affection, rather a Patient Data Aggregator). There are three core components that include:
- Data Aggregation and Distribution Engine (DADE) – sits on top of healthcare provider sources and listens for HL7 messages; then puts them through transformation and parsing scripts in preparation to be stored in Amalga and sends them to a data store;
- Data Store – receives the messages from DADE; is a basic core storage engine and is a database with a set of tables specific to segments within the HL7 messages; and
- Front End – a web-based presentation layer that was originally designed for patient level data viewing and has plug in capability to provide more appropriate tools for analysis.
The current needs of data integration seem to be met by this solution, and the high degree of customization that can accommodate an implementation makes it even more attractive. Microsoft’s footprint in healthcare is getting bigger; they must understand, though, that this space has many stakeholders. While addressing all their needs is nearly impossible (just ask our hard working politicians’ trying to pass healthcare reform legislation), the last people they want to alienate are those they’ve already convinced that Amalga is the healthcare platform of the future, most notably some high profile integrated health systems across the country.
Integrated health systems (IHS) often provide a combination of services including care delivery, research, education, and even their own health plan (think KP, John Hopkins, Geisinger, and Sentara). These entities have a unique opportunity to leverage the MS offerings by creating a continuous feedback loop of information from patient to provider to researcher that improves the quality and accuracy of the data throughout the process. Let’s start with the patient:
- Patient information in HealthVault – As patient’s progress from being baby boomers (less tech-savvy) to Generation X & Yer’s (tech-hungry), clinical information will no longer be in the sole possession of the doctors. Rather, the demand will be for online, mobile, 24×7 access that is shared and can be updated real-time as health data is gathered by both patients and their doctors. Patients, thus, become a stand-alone data quality tool as they become more comfortable verifying, updating, and changing the information in their medical records.
- Research information in Amalga Life Sciences – Researchers are all too familiar with the tedious, error-prone process of identifying patients with the correct diagnosis and conditions as candidates for clinical trials. As patients become more empowered with their medical records, they make the segmentation of populations a much simpler process.
- Clinical information in Amalga UIS – Amalga UIS is a mechanism for driving continuous improvement in clinical care by integrating data across the enterprise. One way to improve care is by incorporating best practices identified through clinical research. The information learned from improved research methods are then implemented directly into the standard delivery of patient care offered by provider institutions.
The Amalga UIS is currently operational in 12 domestic organizations. Because most of these clients are IHS’ and have research entities, they are in the best position to capitalize on the Amalga Life Sciences offering. These will also be the locations where the ROI MS is hoping will be formulated for less prestigious organizations to eventually imitate. It begs the following question, though, that some of the current customers will ask, “How can the existing components of Amalga Unified Intelligence System (UIS) be leveraged in this new offering to make it attractive to the widest audience possible and more importantly, be affordable?” Well, if you can articulate the argument above, and identify the huge benefits that can come from the Microsoft Feedback Loop, your argument might be easier to make than you think. And don’t forget, this feedback mechanism is built on the fundamental principle that all stakeholders must have the collective groups’ best interest in mind; so don’t forget to share what you find with your neighbor.