- Cloud computing and customer management giant Salesforce is investing heavily in personnel in advance of a major push into the healthcare market, according to a Reuters exclusive. According to two people close to the company's plans, Salesforce intends to bring in $1 billion in annual revenue, or a fifth of its current annual sales, in healthcare contracts. The company plans to help clients aggregate data from disparate sources and use it to meaningfully serve patients.
- Salesforce has recruited over a dozen people from the healthcare and medical device industries, including Genentech's former chief information officer Todd Pierce. Pierce now serves as Salesforce's healthcare head.
- The company is already selling software to the Department of Health and Human Services and insurer Blue Shield of California. In April, the company announced a medical device development partnership with Philips.
While the sales push has begun, Salesforce is keeping its mouth shut about the specifics of this aggressive new initiative. More details are expected in November. Some products are already live: The University of California at San Francisco uses an intra-office messenger called CareWeb Messenger that is based on Salesforce tech.
Salesforce does have its critics. Some industry participants doubt that the company will be able to overcome competition from the much-more entrenched Microsoft. The biggest challenge will be convincing different EMR companies to "talk" to one another, and without that piece, the Salesforce solutions may never get off the ground.
"It's fashionable to have a health initiative but it will hard for them to do something," said Emergence Capital investor Kevin Spain. "You need to have a thriving ecosystem of applications."
Not to mention Salesforce has considered a move into this arena before, at one point even toying with designing its own EMR—an initiative it ultimately dropped.