Exclusive: Salesforce to make big push into healthcare industry

Sun Oct 26, 2014 8:09am EDT
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By Christina Farr and Bill Rigby

SAN FRANCISCO/SEATTLE (Reuters) - Salesforce Inc is betting big on healthcare, hiring key personnel and ramping up investment in hopes of replacing outmoded medical industry infrastructure and carving out a $1 billion annual business.

    Its push into healthcare follows years of attempts by rival software providers, including Microsoft Corp, to break into healthcare with everything from personal health records to hospital information systems. They have had mixed results.

    Now Salesforce aims to bring in $1 billion in yearly revenues in coming years - about a fifth of its current annual sales - from health contracts, two people briefed on its plans told Reuters. The company expects to make such inroads despite entrenched competition and its own false starts in the sector, these sources said.

    Salesforce declined to comment on revenue targets or its planned investment in the business.

    The company also would not say how many employees are in its health and life sciences unit, but a LinkedIn search shows it has recruited over a dozen people from the health and medical device sectors. Its healthcare head, Todd Pierce, was formerly chief information officer at biotech giant Genentech, a Roche subsidiary.

    Salesforce is trying to sustain the red-hot growth that's given it among the highest valuations in software with a price/earnings ratio of more than 100 times for its current fiscal year.

    Salesforce executives and sources briefed on its plans say the company is already selling new software to the Department of Health and Human Services and insurers including Blue Shield of California. In April, it announced an alliance with Philips to develop medical applications.

    Salesforce now wants to help customers pull data into one place and determine how it can be used to serve and talk to patients. This sales push has already begun.   Continued...

A Salesforce sign is seen during the company's annual Dreamforce event, in San Francisco, California November 18, 2013. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith