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.