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Microsoft Opens Health Care Portal, Seeks Partners

Microsoft Corp. put its hat further into the healthcare ring by launching its Microsoft Developer Network Healthcare Industry Center.

The new network is part of Microsoft's efforts to build partnerships in support of the healthcare industry's information technology needs. A key IT demand is interoperability among systems to better manage patient data and support communications among personnel.

To that end, Microsoft has developed its Connected Health Framework Architecture and Design Blueprint. Microsoft is also offering its Health Connection Engine for Web services to support interoperability and build decision-making tools for the healthcare industry.

The Microsoft Blueprint platform aims to support service-oriented architecture (SOA) solutions that can address the IT needs of healthcare organizations. An SOA-based approach is necessary to connect a medical institution's legacy systems and build new applications, according to Marc Holland, an analyst at IDC.

Microsoft is currently offering free downloads of its Blueprint solution at the Microsoft Developer Network Health Care Industry Center site. In its announcement, Microsoft described its Blueprint as a "vendor-agnostic approach for addressing integration and solutions within healthcare organizations."

Microsoft expects that its Blueprint technology will lead to partnership development efforts in the healthcare industry.

"Our mission is to create a framework and a partner ecosystem with the potential to transform the provider experience and ultimately the delivery model for patient care," stated Tim Smokoff, managing director of health with the Worldwide Public Sector team at Microsoft.

Microsoft has tested its Blueprint platform in conjunction with Sutter Health, an association of hospitals serving more than 100 communities in Northern California. The platform was used by Sutter Health for an electronic forms solution, which tracked the onset of sepsis in intensive care unit patients.

Sutter used Microsoft's Blueprint solution along with Microsoft Office InfoPath 2003, Microsoft Office SharePoint Portal Server 2003 and Microsoft SQL Server 2005.

An earlier version of the Microsoft Blueprint was tested in Germany with The Asklepios Group.

In addition to its Blueprint announcement, Microsoft sent out another signal that it is deadly serious on targeting the healthcare industry. The company announced the acquisition of a Web search engine from Medstory Inc.

Medstory's technology uses a search process that helps consumers find health information in a more "intuitive" fashion, according to Microsoft's announcement.

About the Author

Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.

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