Today it was announced that Microsoft Corporation has hinted at becoming more active in the healthcare sector by possibly acquiring Medstory Inc. Medstory is a health search engine start-up in Foster City, CA. Medstory’s search software algorithms revolve around an ability to detect medical and health-related articles within Internet medical journals, government documents, and also the newly featured Wall Street Journal and Breastcancer.org articles.
This acquisition also indicates Microsoft’s intention to “improve the consumer experience in health care” stated Peter Neupert, VP of Health Strategy at Microsoft. “Search is a critical part of that better end-to-end experience for consumers.”
So, who is the competition? RevolutionHealth.com is a competitor and is backed by Steve Case, former chairman & also the co-founder of America Online. WebMD is one of the conglomerates out there right now that has a market cap of $3.05 billion and has made an annual revenue of $253 mill this past year.
Google is also another player in the field. “Using the Google Co-op platform, Google and the health community have labeled sites and pages across the web making it easier for users to refine their health queries and locate the medical information they need” wrote Adam Bosworth on the Google Blog.
From first-hand experiences, I believe that many people do not understand the importance of technology and its contribution to healthcare until they know someone who has been diagnosed with a disease or shows irregular symptoms. For example, I had a relative get a call this past weekend from the Er because he had high potassium levels. So the first place we turned was WebMD to see what could alleviate the high potassium levels.
I believe that there is a correlation between this news and the regular announcements made by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. I also believe this would be one of Microsoft’s smartest acquisitions compared to some of their previous.