Improving Health Through Software Innovation

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					Microsoft Policy BriEf | ExEcutivE suMMary                                                               m

Improving Health Through Software Innovation
Building a Scalable Patient-Centered Health System

Breakthroughs in technology have the potential to revo-         A key underlying challenge is the need to better connect
lutionize healthcare. Advances in genomics and diagnos-         health organizations and enable them to share data easily
tic technology are making it easier to spot diseases earli-     and efficiently. Having access to their lifetime record of
er and treat them more effectively. Techniques borrowed         treatments, prescriptions and tests will enable individuals
from computer science are helping scientists conduct            and their healthcare professionals to make better medical
more effective research and quickly develop life-saving         decisions and reduce wasteful spending.
drugs. Innovations in software applications, devices and
                                                                Microsoft’s goal is to offer software and services that en-
Internet-based services are giving patients, medical pro-       able the development of a healthcare ecosystem based
fessionals and insurers a more complete picture of an in-       on the seamless and timely flow of information among all
dividual’s health. And patients are increasingly empow-         stakeholders—providers, patients, employers and insur-
ered with technologies that help them cope with chronic         ance companies and other payers.
conditions and maintain lifelong wellness.
These developments will enable patients to take more            Microsoft’s Commitment to Health IT
control of their own well-being and will lead to better and     More than a decade ago, Microsoft started making invest-
more convenient service, improved outcomes and more             ments in the health industry. Our vision was simple—to
effective management of healthcare costs.                       help improve health around the world through software
                                                                innovation. From the beginning, the company has sought
Technology as a Key Enabler of Healthcare                       to improve health in both developed and developing
                                                                economies. Our global investments in health are built on
Technology is a vital component in improving healthcare
                                                                a foundation of openness and interoperability to enable
systems, but it must be implemented in ways that deliver
                                                                scalable solutions that can benefit all.
better outcomes, such as better chronic care manage-
ment and improved quality. Our current health system is         Our infrastructure products and unified software develop-
built around the idea of a specific provider prescribing a      ment tools have helped facilitate the creation of a thriving
specific treatment for a specific condition. Patients’ health   partner ecosystem to develop and support a broad spec-
data is locked inside each provider’s silo, without being       trum of healthcare applications. In 2005, Microsoft created
connected or shared. Physicians and other healthcare            a Health Solutions Group to focus on the development of
professionals are forced either to make treatment and           products and solutions specifically to improve the health
prescription decisions without all available clinical data or   delivery system. Today, this set of solutions is helping fa-
to exert precious time and resources attempting to gather       cilitate the sharing of information among consumers and
that data.                                                      healthcare professionals.
Microsoft Policy BriEf | ExEcutivE suMMary

Improving Access to Health Data
For consumers, the company created Microsoft® HealthVault™,             Protecting Patient Data
an Internet-based platform for data storage and sharing.                For a connected health ecosystem to succeed, par-
Using HealthVault, people can store copies of their
                                                                        ticipants must be willing to share health data, and
health records from providers, their health plans, pharma-
                                                                        that willingness depends on trusting that their pri-
cies, schools, government or employers; upload data from
                                                                        vacy will be protected. To establish and maintain this
home health devices such as blood glucose monitors and
                                                                        trust, software and services in the connected health
digital scales; provide data to healthcare professionals,
                                                                        ecosystem must offer transparency—to ensure that
coaches and trainers; and access information, products and
                                                                        patients, physicians and providers understand how
services to help improve their health.
                                                                        the data will be collected and stored, who will have
Microsoft worked with other leaders across the industry to              access to the data and what the data will be used for.
ensure appropriate privacy and security standards. Since                Software and services must also offer patients and
launching HealthVault in 2007, device manufacturers have                providers control over the data—so patients can de-
released 50 HealthVault-enabled devices and Microsoft                   cide when and under what circumstances the data
partners have provided consumers with 50 innovative ap-                 will be shared and providers can manage the data in
plications such as pharmacy prescription record storage and             a way that complies with applicable laws and poli-
alert services.                                                         cies. Effective security mechanisms are also needed
                                                                        to give stakeholders the confidence to embrace new
Enabling Patient-Centered Care                                          software and service innovations without worrying
                                                                        about data breaches, identity theft and security flaws.
For hospitals and health systems, Microsoft in 2008 launched
the Amalga family of products. Amalga Unified Intelligence
System (UIS) is a comprehensive health intelligence solution
that aggregates and stores information from across a hospi-
tal’s or health system’s existing legacy systems, enabling orga-    Public Policy Considerations
nizations to use that data efficiently and innovatively. Amalga     The shift to a patient-centered healthcare system will be
captures all data in one place in real time, including scans, im-   driven by software and services that increase efficiency, col-
ages, device data and any other type of electronic data; it lets    laboration and sound decision making among employers,
end users easily create customized views, giving them a tool for    healthcare professionals and individuals. But technology
answering questions that arise as they explore the data; and        will not be the only driver. The process will also hinge on
it provides a streamlined approach to integrating data from         personal attitudes and behaviors, evolving business models,
disparate sources, reducing complexity and making the data          changing public perceptions and effective public policy.
more useful to healthcare professionals and patients.
                                                                    While the private sector will take the lead in the develop-
Building on the success of Amalga, in 2009 Microsoft intro-         ment and adoption of health IT, public policy decisions can
duced Amalga Life Sciences, a new software system designed          help facilitate this transformation and ensure a patient-
to help transform healthcare and life sciences research data        centered health system that is accessible, affordable and ac-
into the critical knowledge needed for the discovery of new         countable. This includes policies that:
personalized treatments. Microsoft Amalga Life Sciences
                                                                    • Encourage innovation in health IT through objective goals
2009 helps organizations across the life sciences spectrum
                                                                      and criteria rather than mandated technologies or devel-
improve their research capabilities by connecting data and
                                                                      opment models.
investigations in new ways through innovative storage ca-
pabilities, ontology management functions and a semantic            • Reward innovative doctors who make the Internet the
query environment powered by a powerful and sophisticat-              foundation of the patient-physician connection.
ed search and reasoning engine.
                                                                    • Make data immediately usable and interoperable by re-
Health providers are successfully applying Amalga and                 quiring vendors to separate data from applications.
HealthVault technologies to a wide range of key scenarios,
                                                                    • Provide incentives for data sharing and patient access.
including chronic disease management, pre-registration,
discharge management, data sharing with primary care pro-           • Enable the private sector to develop a connected infor-
viders and medication reconciliation.                                 mation infrastructure.

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