With partners such as Extend Health, Microsoft will provide a cloud-based platform for states to offer health insurance exchanges and comply with federal mandates.
With states mandated to operate interoperable health insurance portals by
has rolled out the
infrastructure for its state HIX (health insurance exchange) platform, the
company announced on Feb. 8.
While an HIE (health information exchange) allows health care providers to
exchange EHRs (electronic medical records), an HIX is an online market for
purchasing health insurance plans, notes Dave Meyers, chief technology
strategist for Microsoft's U.S. public sector health care and social services
"It's less about pushing clinical records around and more about
offering a marketplace to purchase health insurance," Meyers told eWEEK.
Components of the HIX platform include interoperable exchanges, as well as
applications for enrollment, eligibility, business intelligence and case
coordination, Microsoft reports. The HIX will also reduce the cost of
delivering health care and boost care quality and efficiency.
Among the partners the software giant will work with on HIX is Extend Health
, which operates a large
private Medicare insurance exchange. Extend Health will contribute
plan-comparison tools as well as enrollment and call center functionality,
"The Microsoft HIX solutions will save states time and money in the
design and deployment of the technology underlying health insurance
exchanges," Bryce Williams, CEO of
Extend Health, said in a statement. "It frees states to focus on building
proper consumer support to help citizens make their best choice from available
health care plans."
The HIX platform will reduce costs by providing health care payers with
analytics tools to measure health outcomes, according to Hersey. By using an
HIX service, states can integrate health insurance delivery, determine
eligibility, manage enrollment and offer enhanced privacy functionality,
Health insurance reform is a major part of ARRA (the American Recovery and
Reinvestment Act), Jack
, general manager for Microsoft's U.S.
public sector health care and social services group, told eWEEK. In January,
the Department of Health & Human Services released another round of funds
to help states that are further along in building HIXs.
With the HIX, Microsoft plans to offer an interoperable platform for
government and private sectors, the company reports.
Tools in the exchange will allow customers to choose among plans they're
eligible for based on their medical history, Meyers said. "They can
actually enroll in real time online," he noted. Licensed insurance agents
are also available to guide customers through the choices, he added.
With the software's analytics capabilities to search demographic data, users
can research plans for children, senior citizens or other groups.
Microsoft will incorporate its Windows Azure cloud platform, and its
SharePoint applications will power HIX's consumer portal, Meyers said. The
cloud platform will help insurers handle an abundance of queries, payment
deductions and processing, according to Meyers. Meanwhile, back-end systems
will allow the states to handle eligibility and enrollment.
The platform also uses BizTalk Server 2010, which allows companies to
connect disparate business databases. "Employer systems are primarily
served by BizTalk," Meyers said.
Access to multiple health care databases will make analytics checks of
health plans possible, according to Hersey.
"You can do the BI analytics against the data to make the right
decisions on delivering care, reducing fraud and improving outcomes," Hersey