Microsoft, EMC Launch Chronic Care Management Platform for Denver Hospital

Microsoft and EMC have announced a platform that allows Denver Health to manage patients' chronic conditions and avoid costly re-admissions.

Microsoft and EMC have provided the software and consulting for Denver Health's Chronic Care Management platform to enable the health system to manage patients' conditions, such as diabetes, and reduce costs by avoiding re-admissions.

Denver Health is a hospital system that treats 25 percent of patients in the Denver area. It includes trauma centers, the 911 emergency response system, school-based health facilities, a regional trauma center and correctional care.

The CCM (Chronic Care Management) platform involves the use of text messaging to facilitate bidirectional communication between doctors and high-risk diabetic patients.

EMC provided IT consulting services in design and technology development to the project, which was announced April 20.

"We believe that using bidirectional communications within a chronic condition management system may be an effective method to provide care for chronic conditions beyond the traditional clinic setting," Dr. Andy Steele, director of medical informatics at Denver Health, said in a statement.

Case coordinators and patients send text messages back and forth regarding blood-sugar measurements. Providers send queries to check on blood-sugar measurements, along with reminders of appointments.

Because a significant amount of the population Denver Health serves is impoverished and uses a lot of prepaid cell phones, the hospital system chose text messaging as a way for providers and patients to communicate, according to Shawn Remacle, director of U.S. health provider strategy for Microsoft Health and Life Sciences.

"We do see a lot of interest in text messaging, especially in pediatric settings and also in indigent populations," Remacle told eWEEK.

Patients use text messages to send in blood-glucose readings once a day, he said.

"And then that reading is text-messaged back into Dynamic CRM, where it drives a set of algorithms Denver Health has created to drive protocols for their case managers," Remacle explained.

Case managers manage the flow of text messages and also provide training to patients on how to use their glucometers correctly.

The CCM project draws on Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft SQL Server 2008.

Using SQL Server, Denver Health built disease registries to keep track of patients suffering from conditions, such as diabetes and depression. Data from the registries is converted into Dynamics CRM to manage outpatient data analytics.

When patients send the data to providers, Denver Health uses SharePoint's analytics features on the back end, Remacle said.

The blood-glucose readings can also be imported into patients' EHR (electronic health records).

CCM may be expanded to work with other clinical databases to further benefit at-risk patients, according to Gregg Veltri, chief information officer at Denver Health.

Changes in reimbursement policies are leading hospital systems, such as Denver Health, to find ways to reduce re-admission rates, Jack Hersey, Microsoft's general manager for U.S. public sector health and human services, told eWEEK.

"Solutions such as Denver Health's Chronic Condition Management platform can have an immediate impact on re-admission rates and are easily replicated and implemented as part of any hospital or clinic's at-home chronic condition management programs," said Hersey, who blogged about the project.

If admission rates rise for a facility, the government will reduce funding starting in the fiscal year 2013.

Under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which President Obama signed March 23, 2010, the government financially penalizes hospitals that raise readmission rates. The CCM (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid) will retrieve payments for unnecessary re-admissions within 30 days of discharge for heart attack, pneumonia or heart failure.

The University of Miami School of Medicine and the Cleveland Clinic are using similar CCM platforms. Miami is using SharePoint as a Web portal and Microsoft Office Communications Server as an instant-messaging tool.