By Darryl K. Taft  |  Posted 2007-08-14 Print this article Print

.S. Playing Catch Up in Health Care IT"> Microsofts Shihadeh said there have been great investments and improvements in HIT, "but rarely, if ever, have health systems been able to tie together all of their information sources. For years weve heard people in health care asking, Now that we have all this data, how can we use it to do a better job?" Shihadeh said Microsofts Azyxxi is the answer to that question. Microsoft acquired the Azyxxi technology a year ago. It is an enterprise-wide clinical and financial data warehouse with built-in capabilities for viewing and analysis, that lets hospitals create knowledge from all the existing data.
"Azyxxi allows a health system to tie together these separate elements into a single view—taking these IT systems, aggregating patient data [including computer generated, text, images, video, scan data, etc.] so that clinicians can get an instant picture of all the data in all the hospitals systems at any time," Shihadeh said. "It spans both user and business processes to provide customized data that spans clinical, financial and administrative systems, thus maximizing the value of information in order to make the most informed and timely decisions."
Meanwhile, higher health care spending does not guarantee better delivery or outcomes. Although the United States spends 16 percent of its GDP on health care—the highest in the world—it ranks only 37th in the overall performance of its health-care system by the World Health Organization. Moreover, more than 100,000 Americans die each year from preventable medical errors, IBM officials estimated in a report last year. IBM also has offered its 180,000 U.S.-based employees a Web-based EHR (Electronic Health Records) system. IBMs Grundy said the Congress relaxation of the Stark laws, which limit physician self-referral, will allow large hospitals with strong networks, such as the Mayo Clinic or Johns Hopkins, to create silos. "You might see evolving silos around certain hospitals, with connectivity among their network of providers," Grundy said. "The question is, is there any motivation to connect beyond that" to other health care facilities? "I hope a utility-based solution might make it easier for vendors to have their solutions connected and interoperable," Grundy said. IBM is working with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to transform its IT infrastructure into a utility-based, on-demand environment while consolidating and virtualizing operations. As part of a $352 million IT solution, IBM will provide UPMC with hardware, software, services, and financing. Are there other effective solutions? Oates said, "There is a multitude of various projects taking doomed, proprietary approaches [e.g. RHIO initiatives, NHIN] that are getting a lot of press." RHIO is a Regional Health Information Organization and NHIN is a National Health Information Network, which would be made up of a network of RHIOs. "There are a select few projects working toward an affinity driven approach that is likely to not only succeed, but completely disrupt a currently highly dysfunctional system," Oates added. In his keynote, Wego said the more promising approaches to health information sharing are ADHINs—Affinity-Driven Health Information Networks. "I would describe their approach to be more national, affinity-based, open systems, standard Internet protocols/security, inclusive, and inexpensive," he said. "Affinity-based means they will bring together entities having a need to interact." Check out eWEEK.coms for the latest news, views and analysis on servers, switches and networking protocols for the enterprise and small businesses.

Darryl K. Taft covers the development tools and developer-related issues beat from his office in Baltimore. He has more than 10 years of experience in the business and is always looking for the next scoop. Taft is a member of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and was named 'one of the most active middleware reporters in the world' by The Middleware Co. He also has his own card in the 'Who's Who in Enterprise Java' deck.

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