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Q&A : Microsoft Executive On Fed's 'Meaningful Use' Proposals

Now that the federal government' "meaningful use" criteria is near-final, healthcare organizations and their IT vendors and services firms are analyzing what the regulations will mean for them. An executive of Microsoft's healthcare software business weighs in on the upcoming requirements.
Now that the federal government' "meaningful use" criteria is near-final, healthcare organizations and their IT vendors and services firms are analyzing what the regulations will mean for them. An executive of Microsoft's healthcare software business weighs in on the upcoming requirements.Nate McLemore is general manager of business development and policy for Microsoft Health Solutions Group, which with its HealthVault and Amalga product lines has been a growing focus for the company over the last few years.

McLemore shared Microsoft's take on the U.S. department of health and human services' recent meaningful use rulings in an e-mail interview with InformationWeek.

InformationWeek: Are there any surprises in the rulings?

McLemore: We were not surprised by the proposed regulations as they seemed to reflect many of the recommendations from the HIT Policy Committee. We are encouraged by the definition of "meaningful use" of electronic health records - as it is currently published. We applaud the Administration for the rules' emphasis on outcomes, while allowing for and flexibility in leveraging EHR technologies. The recognition [in the proposals] that focusing on consumer engagement in managing their own and their families' health was also an important inclusion in the rules.

InformationWeek: Are the goals & timelines set out for healthcare providers doable?

McLemore: We believe that the goals and phased timeline are manageable because much of this technology already exists. We encourage healthcare providers to look at ways to leverage existing technologies that can help them improve health outcomes, chronic care management and hospital effectiveness.

InformationWeek: Any suggestions from Microsoft on how the ruling could be improved before they're published?

McLemore: We are working through the regulations now and will provide specific comments on areas where the proposed rule could be modified, while still preserving the balance of being both achievable and impactful. Overall, we are very pleased with the direction of the proposed rules.

InformationWeek: What does the ruling mean for Microsoft's healthcare customers?

McLemore: We believe that the proposed rule reinforces the path that our customers have taken to date. Partnering with Microsoft, they have already focused on improving health care quality, including putting consumers at the center of their own health. Amalga is a powerful solution for hospitals to get more data and more value out of existing legacy systems. Further, the flexible architecture of Amalga allows our customers to adjust to changing requirements overtime. Together, Microsoft Amalga and HealthVault aim to connect the care across the health care ecosystem, which is consistent with the focus of the meaningful use rules.

InformationWeek: Will most of those customers be on the path to meet meaningful use criteria?

McLemore: Yes, we believe that most of our customers are already on the path to meeting the current meaningful use criteria.

InformationWeek: Anything specific Microsoft needs to do with its products/technology to help that along?

McLemore: The rules are consistent with Microsoft's views on how use of electronic health record (EHR) technology can transform health care; however we're still working through the details to understand any impact on our product plans.

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