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8/5/2010
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IBM, Aetna Intro Cloud Healthcare Decision Support

Collaborative Care Solution lets healthcare providers meet meaningful use, other certification criteria without having to directly manage IT systems.




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IBM has unveiled a cloud computing and clinical decision support solution for healthcare providers, marking the first time the company is offering a cloud-based solution to the healthcare industry.

Thursday's announcement also revealed that IBM has partnered with ActiveHealth Management, an Aetna subsidiary, to create the Collaborative Care Solution, a software-as-a-service offering that gives physicians and patients access to the information they need to improve the overall quality of care.

The solution uses ActiveHealth's team of doctors who will provide service support, as well as the company's CareEngine clinical decision support software, which gathers patient data such as claims, pharmacy information, and lab data and analyzes this information against up-to-date evidence-based medical standards.

The solution is also built on IBM's Health Information Framework, IBM Initiate Exchange, and advanced health analytics from Cognos 8 Business Intelligence and predictive analytics from IBM Research.

"By partnering with Aetna's ActiveHealth division we are marrying the strengths of two companies," said Robert Merkel, VP and healthcare industry leader at IBM global business services. "One organization has deep clinical insights, they have a team of doctors analyzing medical literature and evidence to build into the solution and then you have IBM's deep technology insights and deep analytics insights. We are bringing in the strengths of multiple organizations together in order to drive what we think is going to be a very successful system."

Users will be charged a fixed monthly fee and will avoid the upfront investment in hardware, software, and technical support that they would have to make if they were building their own health IT infrastructure with similar capabilities.

Additionally, providers won't have to worry about updating systems when clinical guidelines or reporting requirements change or when patient data grows. Company officials also noted that the IBM cloud-based offering will enable doctors and other eligible providers to meet meaningful use requirements.

"We are seeing so much interest in the cloud computing model, and the implications for healthcare are really interesting because if it works well, one can get the healthcare providers out of the business of managing technology," said Janice W. Young, program director for IDC Health Insights.

With regard to clinical workflows, IBM executives said the system will enable the coordination of patient care among teams of doctors, nurses, and other clinicians, who can access, share, and address information about patients from a single source. The solution can also identify trends in how patients are responding to treatment and automatically alert doctors to conflicting or missed prescriptions.

The solution's advanced analytical capabilities can help physicians or entire healthcare organizations measure their performance against national or hospital quality standards. Demonstrating higher quality, lower-cost care is crucial to helping physicians obtain higher reimbursement rates from government payers and insurance providers, officials at IBM said.

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