Microsoft Expands Work With Hospitals in Asia

Microsoft launched an online health users group for the Asia-Pacific region on Friday and said a software suite it developed after the purchase of a Thai software maker is now in use in nine hospitals throughout the region.

The world's largest software developer said Microsoft's MS-HUG (Microsoft Health Users Group) for Asia-Pacific is an online venue where people in the health care industry can view what Microsoft and other companies provide as well as voice opinions, network, and give input on what else is needed for hospitals and other areas for health services.

The original MS-HUG launched in the U.S. in 1995 and currently hosts 5,000 members and 31 corporate supporters from North America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Microsoft said health professionals could sign up for the Asia-Pacific group on the main MS-HUG Web site, but there did not appear to be any special sign up tab for people from the region early Friday. There was a tab at the top of the page where MS-HUG users from Europe, the Middle East and Africa could click through to a regional site.

Microsoft also signed up a 498-bed hospital in Malaysia, Hospital Sultan Haji Ahmad Shah (HoSHAS), to its new Amalga HIS (Hospital Information System) and Amalga RIS/PACS (Radiology Information System and Picture Archiving and Communication System) software.

The hospital became the second in Malaysia and ninth in the region to adopt Microsoft's Amalga software for its use.

Amalga HIS was created from software developed by Thailand Global Care Solutions (GCS) of Bangkok, which Microsoft bought in late 2007.

The software takes care of a range of hospital work, including patient scheduling, billing, clinical work flow, regulatory compliance, and medical record-keeping including images. GCS created the software over years of work with Bangkok's Bumrungrad International Hospital, a facility made famous by its focus on medical tourism.

Microsoft bought the software package because it fit the region better than what the company sold in North America.

"Moving from a paper environment to an automated environment is easier in a way," said Davide Viganó, general manager of enterprise marketing at Microsoft's Health Solutions Group. "You start with a very clean slate."

One benefit Bumrungrad Hospital saw from its conversion to digital technology was to clear out the old record rooms at the facility. That area has been converted into a children's clinic.

Hospitals in the U.S. had largely been creating specialized software for their work, leading Microsoft to develop what is now called Amalga UIS (Unified Intelligence System), which has to support a lot of legacy systems and software.

Amalga UIS came from software created by Washington Hospital Center in Washington, DC, Viganó said.

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