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Microsoft in Health

Countries around the world are integrating their health efforts

24 October 2013 | Leslie Sistla, Director, Technology Strategy, Worldwide Health Industry

In my role as a technology strategist on the Microsoft worldwide health team, my focus and interests are in three areas —security/privacy/regulatory compliance worldwide, industry specific standards, and the Microsoft Connected Health Framework (CHF). One of the fun parts of my job is seeing how organizations and governments around the world are taking advantage of Microsoft technologies and services in these three areas to help them solve some of their toughest challenges.

On my recent travels, I was inspired by a small island country that is looking at how the Microsoft Connected Health Framework (CHF) could help it integrate its national and regional health information and services. In meeting with the Ministry of Health (MoH) himself and other key members of the ministry, it was very cool to hear how excited they were about the potential for CHF to help them connect the country’s disparate systems and data siloes. And in so doing, create a technology foundation that could support the MoH initiatives for improving the healthcare of its citizens.

What is CHF? It’s basically a blueprint that health organizations and governments can use to implement service- and standards-based, interoperable e-health solutions. What makes it unique is that it offers a series of best practices that are platform-agnostic and based on a service-oriented architecture. At Microsoft, we believe that this is an essential approach because most health organizations and governments use hardware and software platforms acquired from multiple vendors over a long period of time. Interoperability and integration of these systems is vital to the improvement of patient care.

And this is exactly why the MoH team I met with recently thinks CHF might just be the perfect fit for them. By using it to enable an integrated health system, the MoH would have better visibility into the data and services of the five regional health authorities. And that, for example, would enable an integrated view of patient data to drive better patient outcomes.

As we see CHF being used around the world, it’s interesting to note that all the organizations and governments taking advantage of it seem to have one thing in common: They all start out with the need to integrate something. For example, several countries in Central and Eastern Europe are currently using CHF to bring together disconnected health information systems and information. Using the CHF guidance and best practices, they are creating nationwide, integrated e-health solutions that form the foundation of each country’s specific objective – whether that’s enabling e-booking and prescriptions, electronic health records, or simply allowing different operating systems to talk to each other so that health data can be shared.

Another great example of CHF in action is a countrywide electronic prescription solution in Australia. CHF helped enable an interoperable network among 14 competing medical and pharmacy software vendors. With the e-prescription solution, doctors can send prescriptions electronically through a secure gateway for retrieval by a patient’s pharmacy of choice anywhere in Australia.

We’re also seeing our partners and customers harness CHF to help cities in their efforts to improve the health of urban citizens as part of Microsoft CityNext. The CHF best practices and service-oriented architecture provide powerful tools for integrating services, processes, and policies to enable a holistic approach to creating healthier cities.

It’s exciting to witness how CHF is being used around the world to help organizations and governments create integrated e-health solutions that support their health initiatives. You can learn more about CHF here and I look forward to continuing to share examples from my travels and otherwise right here.

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Leslie Sistla
Director, Technology Strategy, Worldwide Health Industry