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Microsoft Buys Medical Records System

Microsoft Corp. has acquired a patient information system that the world's largest software maker plans to sell to health care providers worldwide.

The software, called Azyxxi, gives physicians real-time access to patient data including X-rays, electrocardiograms, prescriptions, patient allergies and other routine clinical information. It was built by doctors at the Washington Hospital Center using Microsoft development tools.

Azyxxi, which rhymes with "Trixie," is being used at six other MedStar Health hospitals in Washington and Baltimore. Microsoft believes the system can help transform the nation's "stressed" heath care industry, said Peter Neupert, vice president of Microsoft's health solutions group.

"Health care is underinvested in information technology," Neupert said Wednesday at a news conference at the Washington Hospital Center. "Microsoft believes that information technology can positively impact (health care delivery) by removing barriers and empowering physicians with instant access to critical patient data."

Microsoft declined to say how much the company paid to acquire Azyxxi or when it would be made commercially available.

Many technology companies, including Dallas-based outsourcing firm Affiliated Computer Services Inc., see health care as a major growth area. Affiliated this month acquired health care payer Primax Recoveries Inc. for $40 million, and said the move was part of its goal to expand in the health care field.

Azyxxi, which was first deployed in 1996, is an "air traffic control system for hospitals," says Craig Feied, a physician who developed the system with his colleague, Dr. Mark Smith. Feied said the system requires minimal training for physicians and provides always-on access to medical records with 1/8-second response time, basically one click of the mouse.

As part of Microsoft's acquisition, Feied and Smith, along with about 40 employees from the development team at Washington Hospital Center, will join Microsoft. Smith will remain chairman of the emergency medicine department at Washington Hospital Center and will also serve as chief clinical liaison to Microsoft.

Shares of Microsoft gained 15 cents to close at $24.37 in Wednesday trading on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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