Well! the news is out: Microsoft will buy Medstory, one of my portfolio companies. It's a little like marrying off a child - exciting and bittersweet, and you hope your child will be treated well.
I have known the founder Alain Rappaport since his days at Neuron Data, an "expert system" company that was eventually sold to Hecht-Nielsen and used to detect credit card fraud, mostly. He's an MD and this venture was a return to his roots, building something to solve problems he really cares about.
What follows is not inside information; it's my own speculation. I'm not privy to Microsoft's plans. But what excites me about the technology is not so much the narrowly defined search capabilities that everyone seems focused on, but the potential use more broadly as a monitoring tool.
If you can define your own health profile within Medstory (a capability that needs refinement, and that someday should include a genomic profile as well as all your health records and your drug purchases), then Medstory can comb all the current literature on your behalf. That includes articles, drug trial reports (which are going to be increasingly available, I predict), statistical surveys and so forth.
Yes, yes, we also need to solve the issues of data control (aka privacy), but the potential benefits will be great if we can do that - and get people to trust that we have done so. (That's another topic I'll be posting on soon.)
So, it's great to see this little company team up with a larger player that can bring its capabilities to a broad public. The morass of medical information now is so great that it's beyond even a trained doctor to keep up with everything going on that might affect a specific individual, let alone hundreds of patients. This gives that capability to the individual - though to be sure you still need a doctor/nurse to interpret the information and apply it to yourself.
And then there's the final problem: The only thing more incomprehensible than medical information is medical billing information. Next!