Microsoft Buys Thai Health Software Vendor

Microsoft Corp. on Monday said it has agreed to buy a Thai software vendor that specializes in hospital administration applications, and plans to sell the software in emerging markets.

Global Care Solutions (GCS) of Bangkok, Thailand, is Microsoft's third purchase of a health-care software vendor in the past 13 months, according to Peter Neupert, vice president for the Health Solutions Group at Microsoft. The group was formed two years ago and the purchase of GCS is one more step to building the Microsoft health-care business, he said.

GCS specializes in hospital software that takes care of patient scheduling, billing, clinical workflow, regulatory compliance and medical record-keeping. The privately held company has worked for years with Bumrungrad International Hospital, a facility made famous by its focus on catering to visiting tourists.

What makes GCS software special is the amount of specialized record keeping required by Bumrungrad. Doctors at the hospital see over 1.2 million patients each year, including 400,000 foreign patients from 190 countries, meaning varying language, insurance and billing data. Half of the 3,200 patients seen at Bumrungrad each day walk in without an appointment, yet GCS's scheduling software ensures patients wait an average of 17 minutes to see a doctor.

Microsoft will retain all GCS workers after the acquisition. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The companies also announced a collaborative alliance with Bumrungrad Hospital to continue work on tweaking and improving technology to improve hospital care.

"We now have a partner that's willing to experiment with us," said Neupert. He said future work will include software development as well as experimenting on how RFID (radio frequency identification) can improve hospital care.

Microsoft will focus GCS software sales on hospitals in emerging countries, said Neupert. The software fits well with emerging market hospital needs, requiring just a small investment in computer hardware, he said.

Microsoft has not been receiving requests for the kind of software GCS provides, he said, but made the acquisition based on what its Health Solutions Group required, and because the company has a good understanding of its business. GCS software is in use in seven hospitals around the Asia-Pacific region, the company said.

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