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Tech Industry

IBM, Microsoft team with drug maker

Pfizer is teaming with Big Blue and the software giant to launch a new company to sell technology and services to the health care industry.

    Drug manufacturer Pfizer on Thursday said it is teaming with IBM and Microsoft to launch a new venture to sell technology and services to the health care industry.

    The venture, which has not been named, will focus on the business needs of office-based physicians, particularly those in smaller groups who represent 70 percent of the office-based doctors in the United States, the company said in a statement.

    The plan is for the new company to help doctors cut costs by eliminating paperwork and automating clinical and administrative functions using Microsoft's .Net Enterprise Server and Windows 2000, as well as wireless mobile devices. IBM is providing services to help integrate and implement technologies, along with Web-hosting operations and help desk services through its call centers.

    Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

    New York-based Pfizer and its partners are taking aim at a technology field dominated by online heath care company WebMD, though its lead has been shaken by financial woes and the encroachment of new players. Microsoft also is a technology partner with WebMD.

    In November, a consortium of major insurance companies including Aetna, Cigna and PacifiCare, threatened by the prospects of losing their direct relationship to doctors and hospitals, laid out a plan for their own Internet service, called MedUnite, to streamline a time-consuming and error-prone medical insurance process.

    Just a few weeks earlier, WebMD had announced a restructuring plan that included laying off roughly 1,100 jobs. Earlier this month, it narrowly beat Wall Street forecasts with a smaller-than-expected loss for its fourth quarter.

    Tools from the Pfizer venture will provide physicians and other caregivers with access to medical histories, insurance information, lab results and billing arrangements, and will enable them to document patient findings in secure systems, the company said. Products are expected to be available later this year.