Salesforce.com and Royal Philips this week pledged to create an open cloud computing platform for the development of healthcare applications.
With thousands of customers relying on Philips healthcare products in and out of hospital settings, building a cloud in collaboration with Salesforce will enable Philips to extend that franchise into the next generation of healthcare applications.
According to Clarence So, executive vice president for mobile strategy at Salesforce.com, the platform the two companies will build will expose open APIs to an underlying object layer in the new cloud platform that third-party healthcare application developers are getting their first look at this week.
Royal Philips CEO Frans van Houten says that with healthcare now consuming upward of 17% of the gross domestic product of most major countries, moving healthcare applications into the cloud represents a major opportunity to reduce those costs.
To that end, Philips also announced that this summer it will deliver Philips eCareCoordinator and Philips eCareCompanion applications designed to make it easier for physicians and patients to make sure that patients stay on their prescribed regimens.
A major component of the Philips healthcare strategy includes the use of sensors that will be embedded in a variety of wearable devices. Data collected from those devices should be able to fuel a broad range of applications that will share that data via a common Salesforce platform.
The existence of the cloud should also shrink the amount of time it takes to develop those types of applications from years to months.
Philips already manages 10 petabytes of data on behalf of healthcare providers and has databases that consist of 300 million imaging studies, says van Houten. All told, he notes, 190 million patients around the globe were monitored by Philips healthcare equipment in the last year.
Obviously, Philips isn’t the only conglomerate with its eye on the convergence of healthcare IT, the cloud and mobile computing. In addition to the platform being created by Salesforce and Philips, developers should expect to see a number of healthcare-centric cloud computing platforms unfurl in the months and years ahead.
There’s no doubt that RESTful APIs will not only play a significant role in accessing those clouds, but also integrating data across those disparate cloud computing environments.
In the meantime, as the overall population continues to age, the number of investors willing to fund the development of healthcare applications appears, for the moment, unbounded.