Corporate Team to Develop Medical Services Company

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Pfizer, IBM and Microsoft plan to form an independent company that will develop and provide integrated financial, administrative and clinical software and services for physicians in group practices, the firms announced this week.

The name of the company and where it would be located has yet to be determined, but Peter Brandt, senior vice president of finance, planning and business development at Pfizer's pharmaceutical group, said the company would be located in the Northeast.

Plans to market the company and its software products have not been set. But while the company would acquire new customers with its own sales department, it would take advantage of Pfizer's relationships with thousands of physicians in the United States.

"Our products will cut down on the administrative burden and paperwork in the physicians' offices," Brandt said.

He said the company would offer a comprehensive and integrated suite of applications. Pfizer will lead the initiative and provide knowledge of the medical industry, and Microsoft will provide its technologies and enterprise servers as the platform for the new company. IBM will consult on architectural design and development as well as work on strategic outsourcing.

Dr. Russell Ricci, general manager at IBM Global Healthcare, said the application will have three main focuses: the financial and administrative side of practice management, such as registration, scheduling and getting bills out on time; clinical systems; and patient communications, "whether it's prescription refills or e-mail," Ricci said.

The company will pursue acquisitions, partnerships and other investments to provide a product and service offering, supported by its own dedicated marketing, sales and customer support structure. While there is still no product or vendor partners, Brandt said that would change soon.

"We expect to announce an acquisition within the next month that will provide us with a beginning platform that we will develop out from there," Brandt said.

The three partners expect to make a product available with half of its intended features by the second quarter and to offer a final version by the third quarter.

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