Microsoft, athenahealth to Supply Cloud-based Info Sharing Services for Healthcare Providers

Strategic alliance aims to improve information exchange, communication and access in various delivery settings.

February 25, 2011

D.H. Kass

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Microsoft Corp. and athenahealth, will together supply cloud-based services designed to improve information exchange and access among health care organizations and providers, the companies said.

The collaboration will join athenahealth’s web-based services, specifically athenaClinicals, an electronic medical records (EMR) solution, and athenaCollector, medical billing and practice management software, with Microsoft’s Amalga, a platform to centralize digital information into one repository, officials said.

The companies said that the collaboration aims to improve care coordination and communication among hospitals, physicians and patients, combining athenahealth’s strengths in cloud-based services with Microsoft’s data collecting capabilities that should result in lower cost, more efficient healthcare delivery.

“By connecting athenahealth and Microsoft’s complementary health IT assets, we can open new doors for health systems looking to reduce costs and improve care through the efficient, secure exchange of health information across ambulatory and inpatient settings,” said Peter Neupert, Microsoft corporate vice president, Health Solutions Group.

Jonathan Bush, athenahealth chairman and chief executive, said that health systems typically lack the connectivity to share information across the enterprise either because the technology doesn’t exist or is cost prohibitive.

“With Microsoft we have created what we believe to be a low-cost, rapidly deployable and infinitely scalable solution that gives healthcare professionals a single view of a patient’s activity—something that healthcare reform advocates have been striving to do for years,” he said.

“Our shared solution fittingly provides all sorts of opportunities for healthcare institutions to rise to the challenges of operating in a more complex environment than ever before, while at the same time providing the IT capabilities to deliver better, more coordinated care,” he said.

Early adopter healthcare organizations

Both Steward Health Care System, a community hospital network based in Boston, Massachusetts, and Cook Children’s Health Care System, an integrated health care organization comprised of seven companies, headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas, have signed on as early adopters of the athenahealth-Microsoft service.

Steward and Cook currently each deploy the athenaClinicals EHR solution and Microsoft’s Amalga. The health care organizations said that they are already working with Microsoft and athenahealth to alpha test the new connected solution for data flow.

“athenahealth and Microsoft are bridging the information gap and providing clinicians the ability to access patient information from anywhere, regardless of its origination,” said Ralph de la Torre, Steward Health Care System chief executive and president.

“This will improve our ability to drive efficiencies, improve quality and deliver truly coordinated care,” he said.

Rick Merrill, Cook president and chief executive, said that improved access to information will improve health care quality.

“Our patients and physicians will have access to an information platform that not only transcends physical location but also will evolve as knowledge grows to comply with changing healthcare requirements and rules,” said Merrill.

Microsoft and athenahealth said that separately they are pursuing other opportunities that require providers to have a single point of access into patient records. They said that they will jointly market their respective applications to existing and potential clients.

TAGS: Cloud,services,Microsoft,healthcare,athenahealth

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