Microsoft flexes IT muscle

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Microsoft made its Connected Health Framework Architecture and Design Blueprint, a real-world model for providers seeking to deploy service-oriented architecture (SOA) solutions, available at HIMSS07 in New Orleans. In addition to the Blueprint, Microsoft made available the Health Connection Engine, a standards-based set of Web services that enable health organizations to quickly deploy solutions to improve interoperability, clinical collaboration and decision-making tools.

The framework is designed to connect disparate systems. “So many systems don’t necessarily talk together but want to,” said Chris Sullivan, national director of healthcare solutions for Microsoft. “People have been looking for guidance.” The framework educates customers on how to best optimize the technology investments they’ve already made. Sullivan cited one hospital customer that had bits and pieces of data about sepsis but could not aggregate the data. Microsoft created a solution with technology that the hospital already owned that has saved more than 20 lives. The framework is available at

Sullivan said that although “IT vendors are typically frowned upon as leaders in healthcare, physicians are recognizing the power of technology.” To better serve as an IT leader in healthcare, Microsoft recently acquired health intelligence software called Azyxxi. The software was created 15 years ago by doctors for doctors. In addition to serving as a repository for all of a patient’s routine clinical information, Azyxxi provides caregivers with instant access to a comprehensive view of each patient. It has been estimated that 60 percent of physicians’ time is spent searching for data. Azyxxi aggregates and analyzes all relevant data and offers one-eighth of a second response. New versions are released every six months which are fully tested in a clinical environment.

Microsoft also announced its acquisition of Medstory, a vertical health search engine that uses intuitive search technology for pre-qualified results which helps users get more relevant results. As consumers are asked to take more responsibility for their healthcare decisions, they need to access and manage personal health information like their medications, disease history and vaccine records, and they need to be able to do their own research into disease and wellness. A recent study found that 10 million U.S. adults a day search for health information online but 22 percent are frustrated by a lack of information or by their inability to find what they were looking for.

The company said that the acquisition of Medstory is one of the first building blocks of its consumer health strategy. A newly formed division at Microsoft led by Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of the health solutions group, will incorporate the new employees and manage product development and delivery. Neupert rejoined Microsoft in September 2005 to coordinate its global health strategy. Microsoft is building products and services based on a concept called knowledge-driven healthcare, Neupert said. Healthcare professionals are the ultimate information workers, and Microsoft is committed to arming them with the right knowledge, where and when they need it so they can improve healthcare outcomes. Microsoft is committed to helping turn a fragmented healthcare system into an integrated and informed network of providers and consumers. With the availability of so much more data, the key will be to provide software and tools that will enable consumers and healthcare providers to manage all that information in ways that deliver tangible benefits.