Washington, D.C. - Microsoft Corp. has launched a technology framework for the health plan industry, called "Knowledge Driven Health Plans." The announcement came as Microsoft participated in the third annual World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C.As health plans face mounting pressure to respond to the rising costs of healthcare, growing member and provider expectations, intense competition, regulation, and the inefficiencies of a fragmented care-delivery ecosystem, Microsoft's Knowledge Driven Health Plans solutions framework is designed to deliver a technology platform that enables seamless business transformation. Microsoft and its industry partners are working together to provide health plans with integrated solutions designed to improve collaboration and access to information, thereby empowering people to make business and healthcare decisions that are based on the best evidence available.

"The need for health plans to innovate is more critical today than ever before in the face of rising healthcare costs and a system that is shifting consumers toward the center of the decision-making process," says Dennis Schmuland, M.D., industry director for health plans at Microsoft. "Microsoft and its industry partners are delivering technologies and solutions that enable health plans to substantially improve the health and experience of the consumer while holding costs down."

Microsoft's Knowledge Driven Health Plans initiative is being launched with the support of 22 leading industry partners to provide a solutions framework that targets improved business and health performance. The solutions framework developed for the health plan industry harnesses Microsoft's integrated technology systems, including its .NET Framework, BizTalk Server, Windows Server System), Windows Communication Foundation, SQL Server and the 2007 Microsoft Office system.

Built on open standards such as Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Web services, Microsoft technology is designed to integrate easily with legacy systems and facilitate business agility, which is critical as health plans undergo significant business transformation in response to a rapidly changing industry landscape.

"Technology continues to be an integral driver in helping health plans adapt to changing market dynamics," says Cynthia Burghard, research director at Gartner Inc. "In using technology that is based on open standards, health plans benefit from greater flexibility, allowing for integration with existing IT investments and adoption of new technology frameworks like service-oriented architectures."

Under Microsoft's vision and solutions framework, health plan employees are able to connect islands of information for improved collaboration and knowledge delivery, driving more informed decisions. The solutions based on this framework span key business areas, including care management to business intelligence, enterprisewide project management to risk management and risk compliance, and member-centric communications.

Industry customers around the world are already experiencing success under the Knowledge Driven Health Plans vision and solutions framework.

Horizon Healthcare Services Inc. (Horizon), an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in New Jersey, recently deployed Microsoft BizTalk Server to provide translation and orchestration services for its provider portal applications and HIPAA transactions. With Microsoft's technology in place, Horizon has achieved improved visibility into transactions, increased first-call resolution of support requests, and it projects a 50% reduction in cost of ownership.

Working with Microsoft technology, case managers at Premera Premera Blue Cross (Premera), also an independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, have developed new tools to coordinate complex patient treatment programs. The tool helps them set their priorities, track their work and show outstanding tasks more efficiently. The solution has produced a 25% increase in efficiency and a 17% increase in case manager job satisfaction. It has also expanded case-management capacity worth $9.6 million (U.S.) and helped Premera improve support for patients with complex medical needs.

National Health Service (NHS), which provides healthcare for 59.6 million citizens of the U.K., realized it needed to improve its Web site performance. After migrating to Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0, the organization saw a fivefold increase in performance and up to a 40% increase in developer productivity. Now meeting customer service and accessibility mandates, and exceeding performance expectations, the NHS is poised to improve patient service even more in the future.

Source: Microsoft Corp.

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