Steve Ballmer shares views on “what technology can do to positively revolutionize healthcare”

By Daniel R. Matlis

On February 26, 2007 Microsoft’s CEO, Steve Ballmer, offered his view on the role of technology in healthcare during his remarks at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) in New Orleans, Louisiana.

He commented: “we take a look at the whole area of health and we say this is the largest segment of the world’s economy, it’s one of the fastest growing, it’s one in which information plays and will play an increasingly large role, and really the opportunities for information technology to make an incredible difference is the way and the quality of health that people have a right to pursue is stunning.” 

During his remarks, Mr. Ballmer touched the following of key issues facing the Healthcare industry:

1. The explosion in the amount of clinical data available
2. The growing  interest and opportunity for patients to participate in their own healthcare
3. The need for Healthcare providers to fully leverage automation and information technology
4. The imperative for Healthcare firms to harness technology successes from industries like Airlines, Banking and Finance
5. The need to standardize and embrace XML as the set of standard protocols
6. Information Technology industry must build the tools that will allow healthcare to advance to the next level.
7. The need for an aggregated view of patients, so that practitioners can not only look at an individual patient, but what the experience has been with groups of patients
8. The challenge to let people communicate securely in a clinical context
9. The need to centralize records, and allow the data that’s in them to be mined

“We need to see policy that really talks about cooperation, group access to information, privacy, ownership of information. That needs to continue to evolve. Standardization of healthcare records, CCR, the NHIN initiative is very important, HL7, and, of course, the work that has gone on with XML Web services needs to be continued and extended” said Ballmer.

“Service-oriented architecture is a new technology, and one that I think will be more important in this industry than in any other” Ballmer added.

To meet these challenges, Microsoft announced the release of the Connected Health Framework, a set of tools and technologies that are designed to facilitate interoperable systems and the movement of information across the Healthcare spectrum.

I am pleased to see that many of the issues discussed by Mr. Ballmer have been covered in Life-Science Panorama. It’s good to know we are on the right track.

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