New York-based insurer EmblemHealth is using Microsoft's Windows Azure cloud platform to build apps that allow patients to locate flu shot providers and retrieve temporary health plan IDs.
company EmblemHealth, which offers the HIP Health Plan of NY and GHI (Group
Health Incorporated) to 2.9 million people in New York, New Jersey and
Connecticut, has built several mobile health applications using the Microsoft Windows Azure
allows companies to build, host and scale applications while storing data in
Microsoft's data centers.
is using the Windows Azure platform to host various types of data, which, via
the Windows Phone 7 development system, can be easily and quickly accessed
through the development of new health apps for the phone, PC or other
devices," Dennis Schmuland, Microsoft's worldwide managing director for
health insurance industry, wrote in a blog
insurer uses a "blended cloud approach," according to Schmuland.
"As security and privacy are paramount, it hosts its patient data onsite
in a secure, encrypted database but still leverages the cloud to both build its
mobile applications and deliver member information securely to users' mobile
health plan provider uses a private cloud to store patients' data for HIEs
(health information exchanges) but draws on the Azure platform for its mobile
health apps to make more general health data available, John Steber, executive
vice president and CIO for EmblemHealth, told eWEEK.
to Azure, at this point we're using Microsoft's platform to store relatively
generic information like pharmacy address data as well as flu shot availability
data," Robert Branchini, vice president of information technology for
EmblemHealth, told eWEEK.
company is also using the geosearch capabilities and integrating GPS searches
of data on the Azure platform and Windows 7 mobile platform, according to
Branchini. With EmblemHealth's Flu Shot Finder, New York City residents can
search for pharmacies offering the flu vaccine.
the GetMyID mobile app retrieves a temporary health plan insurance card from
EmblemHealth's database and allows patients to email the information to a
provider. EmblemHealth may update the application in the future to offer
caregap alerts, particularly when patients go for lab tests and need to
maintain continuity of care and benefits, Branchini said.
us, the real goal was to address authentication, and I think we did that with
this initial application of GetMyID," he added. He compared printing out a
temporary ID in the EmblemHealth app to accessing boarding passes on airline
the Flu Shot Finder and GetMyID apps are available only on the Windows
platform, though patients can access their temporary ID cards from
EmblemHealth's Website on Google Android, Apple iOS and RIM BlackBerry devices,
application, ProviderID, uses GPS to deliver information on providers.
company aims for consistency in what users see on mobile devices compared with
viewing a Website on a PC, Branchini said.
the future, EmblemHealth is looking at ways to connect its subscribers with
health-monitoring tools so they can track their data and integrate it with the cloud on the Azure platform, Branchini said.
EmblemHealth has designed initial applications such as Flu Shot Finder and
GetMyID for Windows Phone 7, the company aims to make them available on all
platforms, including Android, BlackBerry and Apple iOS. "A lot of the
things we're rolling out now, we started these on a Microsoft platform, but
that isn't good enough as we move forward," Steber said.
other applications we've built and that we'll build in the future will be
rendered to all of the various devices," added Branchini.