Microsoft, Miami-Dade County Develop Health Exchange for Student Data

Doctors and teachers in Miami-Dade County are using Microsoft Amalga, Dynamics and HealthVault to find links between academic records and health histories.

Microsoft has created the tools for a health information exchange that combines electronic health and academic records for students in Florida's Miami-Dade County.

Called Children's Health Education and Economic Resource (CHEER), the service integrates, health, education and social services data, such as information on foster care, Kevin Dolan, director of health and human services for Microsoft, told eWEEK.

The Microsoft Amalga health intelligence platform will power CHEER, and parents will be able to store children's health data in the Microsoft HealthVault personal health portal.

Miami-Dade uses Amalga for integration and analytics and Microsoft Dynamics CRM for collaboration, coordination and reporting, Dolan said.

"Some data feeds we'll put directly into Dynamics, and some we'll pull through Amalga," Dolan said.

CHEER holds data for 2 million patients in Miami-Dade County, Dolan said.

The database evolved out of a relationship with Health Choice Network, which adopted Amalga and provides health services for small clinics.

HCN acts like an IT hub by providing electronic health records (EHRs) and billing data, Dr. Andy Brickman, executive director of CHEER, told eWEEK.

CHEER will allow teachers and school nurses to stay up-to-date on students' health situations. Data will track the relationships between academic issues such as absenteeism, behavior and academic performance with various health conditions, Jack Hersey, general manager for U.S. Public Sector Health and Human Services at Microsoft, wrote in an Oct. 19 blog about the initiative.

The health information exchange (HIE) will provide a platform for telemedicine visits for students in inner cities and rural areas, according to Hershey.

As far as teachers, "they don't know everything they need to know about a child to save their life," said Brickman, who holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology.

"Amalga gave us the opportunity to create an interoperable environment in Miami-Dade," he said.

Data in CHEER will allow schools to help parents and doctors monitor students' chronic conditions such as asthma and diabetes. CHEER could also store discharge plans for when students leave a hospital, Brickman said.

For instance, if a child missed 10 days of school, doctors and teachers can view data in CHEER to see a possible correlation between absenteeism and health, Dolan said.

In addition, doctors will be able to draw on academic data before deciding on medical treatment.

Microsoft recently announced a new lineup for its health care IT leadership with Michael Robinson named general manager of U.S. Health & Life Sciences and Dr. Dennis Schmuland the new chief health strategy officer. At the time, Robinson told eWEEK that combining health and school data would be an area of focus.

Doctors and teachers would be able to use CHEER to know which students may not have had a physical or to research possible connections between dropouts and health conditions, Dolan said. The database will also provide insight on the social, health and economic factors keeping kids from going to college, Dolan said.

By using CHEER, doctors and educators will gain a "holistic view" of children from birth through graduation, as far as health and the human services children are involved, Dolan said.

Doctors and educators can use CHEER to check attendance data and test scores and view the information in the same data set as medical information, Brickman said.

Miami-Dade now has data dating back to 2010, he noted.

The fourth-largest school district in the United States, Miami-Dade is also working to incorporate vaccine data into Amalga from the Florida state immunization registry, Brickman said. The database will be able to send text reminders to get vaccinations, he said.

"Not only will it tell them that a child is due for vaccination, but it will tell them what their insurance status was," Brickman said.

The database conforms to guidelines under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), a federal law protecting student records.

It will eventually expand to incorporate data from the rest of Florida, Brickman said. Harris Interactive is working on an HIE for the state of Florida.

"CHEER already is on the HIE backbone in South Florida, and the intent is for it to be on the state backbone," Brickman said.

In addition, San Diego is looking to develop HIE technology modeled after Miami-Dade's use of CHEER, Dolan said.