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Microsoft, Athenahealth Collaborate On Amalga, HealthVault

The Microsoft and Athenahealth alliance will funnel cloud-based Athenahealth e-health record and practice management data to Microsoft Amalga and HealthVault platforms.

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Microsoft and Athenahealth have announced a strategic alliance to connect Athenahealth's cloud-based EHR and practice management software with Microsoft's Amalga enterprise health intelligence system.

In addition to developing the new AthenaNet-Amalga connector, the companies also announced at the Health Information Management and Systems Society (HIMSS) event in Orlando that they are working on projects with two healthcare customers -- Steward Health Care System in Massachusetts and Cook Children's Health Care Systems in Texas -- to push data from Amalga, including Athenahealth data, into Microsoft's HealthVault personal health record platform.

Those projects are due to be completed by the second half of 2011, and are expected to eventually create a path for other healthcare providers to use Amalga to push data from an assortment of disparate clinical systems, including ambulatory and in-patient data, into patients' HealthVault personal e-health records.

The ability to have Amalga "auto-populate" Microsoft HealthVault with patient data would help create more comprehensive personal health records and make it easier for patients to manage their health information, said an Athenahealth spokesman.

Cook Children's, which includes 60 pediatric clinics and hospitals throughout Texas, will use the new AthenaNet-Amalga connector to provide a "consolidated view of each patient" to clinicians treating Cook patients, Ryan Champlain, VP of Cook operations and physicians network, said in an interview with InformationWeek.

By using Amalga to bring together data from many disparate clinical systems, including Athenahealth EHR data, "this saves time and money and can speed up the delivery of care," Champlain said.

"When a patient arrives to the ER, a physician will be able to see each patient's outpatient data, inpatient data, diagnostic labs, and other information," he said.

Later, as Amalga data is pushed to HealthVault, patients and their parents will also be able to view the consolidated patient information.

"As our pediatric patients graduate to adult doctors, they can grant permission for their next doctor to look at their comprehensive records," Champlain said. Also, the HealthVault data can be available to doctors in other states where Cook patients and potential patients sometimes live, he said.

"We'd be able to order tests together, share information," he said.

Meanwhile, Steward Health Care System, formerly Caritas Christi Health System, has been an Athenahealth customer for several years, offering Athenahealth-hosted EHRs and billing software to its network of 500 employed and 1,200 affiliated doctors.

Steward has also been working with Microsoft for several years to use Amalga and HealthVault to build an internal health information exchange to share data among Steward's six community hospitals and 1,700 doctors in Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

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