Microsoft and SAP bring their Duet to health care

Microsoft is not the only vendor with an eye on health care software: rival Google is already making moves with an online medical record service

Microsoft and SAP said they will target the health care industry with Duet, software that integrates their desktop and back-end business applications.

The two vendors announced the joint marketing agreement on Monday at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in Orlando, Fla.

Duet integrates Microsoft's front-end Office productivity programs with complex ERP (enterprise resource planning) applications from SAP. Those applications handle tasks such as purchasing, inventory, budget management, and other administrative processes.

The companies said Duet can be tailored for health care, an industry known for slim margins, tight budgets, and high administrative costs.

Microsoft's moves in the health care industry area are relatively new as the company continues to diversify its products beyond its Office software and Windows operating system. It's not the only vendor with an eye on health care software.

Last week, Google started testing an online medical record service with a clinic in Cleveland, Ohio. The service lets patients exchange data about their prescriptions, conditions, and allergies with the clinic and other service providers. Patients control who can see their health information.

At the Orlando medical conference, Microsoft is also rolling out a software program that identifies risk factors associated with sepsis, a common yet potentially lethal bacterial infection.

Microsoft's Patient Safety Screening Tool (PSST) for Sepsis monitors medical data on a patient and issues alerts to detect sepsis early on so that caregivers can intervene. The tool was developed with Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

PSST uses several Microsoft technologies, including Windows Server 2008, SQL Server 2005, Office SharePoint Server 2007, the .Net Framework 3.5, and InfoPath, an application centered on electronic forms.