Microsoft and Sentillion: A Progress Report on a Crucial Health IT Acquisition

It was a big day last February when Sentillion, the Andover, MA-based provider of healthcare software, announced its acquisition by Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) was complete and that the company and its 110 employees (most of whom are in Massachusetts) would be folded into the technology giant’s Health Solutions Group. The deal (exact terms of which have not been disclosed) is one of the largest healthcare acquisitions in Microsoft’s history, and it plays a significant role in the Redmond, WA, software firm’s overall strategy in health IT.

At the time, Sentillion founder and CEO Robert Seliger said the deal would accelerate adoption of his 11-year-old, venture-backed company’s software around the globe. Sentillion’s main technology includes a single sign-on system to make it easy for hospital workers to access multiple software systems without having to log on to each application. And as my colleague Ryan McBride wrote at the time, “it’s clear that Microsoft is investing in this technology to make its healthcare software user-friendly and practical for busy doctors and nurses.”

As we close out 2010, I checked in with Seliger to see how the integration was going, both for him and for the company—and what, if any, new products or other fruits of the union we might expect to see. It turns out he has a new and expanded role in Microsoft, and while he remained guarded on how much he could reveal of what’s coming down the pike, I think his answers gave some real insights into how Microsoft integrates the companies it acquires, and at least some hints at what the future might bring.

Here are some takeaways from our conversation:

Most surprising thing about being acquired by Microsoft: “How hard it is to get to Seattle.” Seliger says he isn’t joking. The options are Alaska Airlines and JetBlue for non-stops, but he says there are fewer flights than in the past. “I enjoy being in Seattle, but don’t enjoy the gymnastics of trying to get there or home, and I would not have expected that.” (With offices in Boston and Seattle, we at Xconomy are well aware of these challenges.)

On the path of the integration: Seliger says he and a few other Sentillion executives became Microsoft employees on the day the deal closed in February. They worked closely with Microsoft vice president Peter Neupert’s team on structuring the integration, while the rest of Sentillion continued as a standalone entity and its employees conducted business pretty much as usual. Then, in July, … Next Page »

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