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10/14/2009
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Healthcare System Signs With Microsoft For Data Exchange

Caritas Christi Health Care's pact with Microsoft is part of hospital network's $70 million IT program to improve patient care and reduce costs.

Caritas Christi Health Care, which operates six community hospitals in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, has signed a deal to use Microsoft Amalga Unified Intelligence System and HealthVault technologies to create an internal health information exchange.

The Microsoft pact is part of a $70 million, three-year capital IT expenditure program at Caritas Christi that also includes accelerating the adoption of e-medical records and other clinical systems, said CIO Dr. Todd Rothenhaus.

Caritas Christi is located "in the most competitive medical market place in the country," said Rothenhaus. The IT initiatives will help position the hospital network more competitively relative to other area hospital systems known for innovative use of IT, including CareGroup Health System, which operates Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, and Partners Health Care, which runs Massachusetts General and Brigham and Women's hospitals.

Amalga and HealthVault will aggregate patient data in disparate systems throughout the hospital network, including Caritas Christi's home healthcare, ambulatory, lab, emergency, vital sign monitoring, and other systems. This will provide doctors with a more comprehensive view of patient's health data and give administrators more insight into the entire population of patients, Rothenhaus said.

Users can look at a single lab or see trends of several labs in the Caritas Christi organization using the Amalga, said Dr. Craig Feied, , chief health strategy officer for Microsoft's Health Solutions Group. This ability can help Caritas Christi identify areas for improvement in the quality of care and reduce costs.

With HealthVault, patients also will be able to access their healthcare data and add information to their personal e-health records. "Bi-directional" data adds to the completeness of patient information, Feied said.

Caritas Christi patients will be able to add their own electronic readings to their HealthVault records from in-home health devices, like weight scales and glucose meters. This will let Caritas Christi create "warning systems" to alert doctors when a patient at risk for heart failure gains too much weight, which could be a sign of dangerous fluid retention, said Rothenhaus.

While Amalga and HealthVault is helping Caritas Christi provide what's essentially an internal health information exchange, Rothenhaus is confident that the Microsoft technology will also let the provider connect with other systems. "We've been ensured that we can hook up with state health information exchanges," he said.

The Caritas Christi installation is Microsoft's largest rollout of Amalga in New England and among community hospitals in the U.S. so far, said Feied. Caritas Christi employs 13,000 and serves about 1 million patients in the region.

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on e-health and the federal stimulus package. Download the report here (registration required).

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