A Microsoft Window on Financial Services and the Healthcare Industry

In my last entry I promised to share information about a family healthcare crisis I experience over Christmas vacation. In retrospect, I've decided not to share it because it probably wouldn't tell you anything you don't already know about the deficiencies of our American healthcare "system". Also, I'd much rather use this precious space to point to solutions rather than complain about the way things are. I guess what caught me by surprise during our recent family crisis was the poor service, communication breakdowns and medical errors that happened despite our being a physician's family; people who know a thing or two about navigating the healthcare landscape. Lord help everyone else who's getting care in this system!

But enough of that. Like many of you, one of the other things I did over Christmas vacation was tend to some year-end financial housekeeping regarding my benefits, 401(k) investments, and other matters. Microsoft provides super tools to help me do this whether its changing a tax withholding, creating an expense report, reporting time off for vacation, or ordering equipment for my office. It's all done on-line.

In planning my investment strategy for next year, I visited Fidelity and Schwab. In a matter of minutes I reallocated some investments, did a comparative analysis of my present holdings, and increased automatic contributions to my retirement plan. I had an amazing amount of information at my fingertips presented in tables, charts and graphs. I had access to real-time and historical data, and complete control over a bevy of transactional processes served up in a highly intuitive and very functional user interface. "Wow", I thought. "If only the healthcare system worked this well". 

Behind the scenes at Schwab, Fidelity and the like, you just know there are a bunch of legacy systems that weren't necessarily designed to talk to one another. Yet, the end user experience is quite seamless. Oh, and did I mention that there is a lot of Microsoft technology making that possible?

Some of our most progressive healthcare customers have seen the light. They are building rich clinical, administrative and patient portals that bring together a variety of disparate, and often legacy systems, to provide access to information and transactional processes wherever and whenever they are needed. They are also implementing our best communication and collaboration tools, and deploying a range of mobile devices and solutions to meet the needs of busy healthcare professionals. For patients, families, clinicians, administrators and everyone else in the "system", as Martha would say, "it's a very good thing". And as we know, there's a whole lot of room for improvement in healthcare.

What do you think? Let us know.

Bill Crounse, MD Healthcare Industry Director Microsoft Healthcare and Life Sciences