Don’t jump to conclusions as Thomson cries “Uncle” on healthcare


In the wake of the Thomson Reuters announcement that it’s exiting its healthcare business, many will point this as an example of why “non healthcare companies” will struggle to be successful in healthcare.  We assert that this knee-jerk reaction is wrong, and strongly believe that innovation in healthcare needs to come from outside the industry.

In recent years, some of the largest companies in the world (whom TripleTree internal labels “master brands” because of their breadth of service) have been verticalizing their solutions.   Topping their list of target areas is the healthcare vertical, which has been especially popular with the technology “stack” vendors who feel they are uniquely qualified to take on traditional healthcare stalwarts (Cerner, Epic, etc.)

Since January 2010, TripleTree has witnessed significant software and services consolidation by the stack vendors and as a gut check at the midpoint of 2011, we thought it made sense to review how four of the better known master brands (Microsoft, IBM, Oracle and SAP) are messaging their respective approaches around verticalization.

  • IBM:  Via its “Smarter Healthcare” slogan, is messaging comprehensive and integrated industry solutions addressing healthcare organization needs
  • Microsoft:   Is messaging helping to cost-effectively meet new regulations while strengthening patient outcomes
  • Oracle:    Is messaging improving the quality of patient care, and enhancing provider operational efficiency
  • SAP:  Is messaging lowering the pressure on healthcare organizations

The graphic below summarizes a very simple acquisition roadmap dating back to January ’10.  Each have been acquisitive, and three have made bold moves in healthcare to underscore their seriousness (IBM > Initiate; Microsoft > Sentillion; and Oracle > PhaseForward).


It’s easy to ask ‘what’s missing’ in each stack, but the gaps alone don’t make a massive statement.  Our team is left to opine that these vendors (arguably the largest of the non-traditional healthcare vendors) are focused simply on solution selling, not competing directly on clinical centric solutions.

Solution selling means taking each of their extensive portfolios into vertical specific deployment scenarios, which involves understanding industry problems and proactively pitching purpose-built solutions.  Knowledge comes from experience and these firms are still lacking it in healthcare.  Based on the roadmap above, our team considers the lack-of-acquired-healthcare-expertise a glaring gap and likely areas of focus for them in the quarters ahead.

Let us know what you think.

Chris Hoffmann
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