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Microsoft is teaming up with athenahealth, a web-based
practice management, electronic health record and patient communication
services vendor, on an electronic health solution intended to improve
communication between hospitals, doctors and patients.

The cloud-based solution combines athenahealth’s hosted
services – athenaClinicals and athenaCollector – with Microsoft’s Amalga
enterprise health intelligence platform software. The combined solution enables
the flow of information across health care delivery settings – from hospital to
doctor’s office, both in-patient and out-patient.

“athenahealth and Microsoft share a common view on the
importance of improving information sharing across the health system to address
the ‘data gaps’ faced by healthcare organizations striving to deliver optimal
care,” Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of Microsoft Health Solutions
Group, said in a statement. “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.”

Two health care systems have been selected to try out the
solution: Steward Health Care System in Massachusetts and Cook Children’s
Health Care System in Texas. Both already use athenahealth’s cloud-based HER platform
and Amalga and are testing the connected solution for athenaNet to Amalga data

The hospitals will also work with Microsoft to push data
from Amalga to its Health Vault online platform for collecting, sharing and
storing personal health information. The projects should be completed in the
second half of 2011.

“We are pleased to be an alpha site for the initial
athenahealth-Microsoft collaboration that has proven the value of the alliance
announced today. In the coming months, athenaNet and Amalga will provide Cook
Children’s with true connectivity across our multiple IT systems, furthering
the promise we made to this community to improve the health of every child in
our region. 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 Rick Merrill, president and CEO of Cook Children’s Health Care System, in
a statement.

“Outside of unique, advantaged organizations like Kaiser and
the Cleveland Clinic, there are few examples of health systems with the
connectivity to share data across the full enterprise. In most cases, the
technology simply does not exist or is not cost efficient,” said Jonathan Bush,
Chairman and CEO of athenahealth.

“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. 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.”