Microsoft teams with AT&T, Covisint for e-health exchange

Microsoft teams with AT&T and Covisint to bolster its e-health strategy around its HealthVault patient-information repository.

Microsoft continues to sign up partners to support its mission to create an online repository for patient information. On Monday the company announced a partnership with AT&T and Compuware subsidiary Covisint to set up an Internet-based information exchange between the companies' e-health systems.

The deal is similar to a pilot set up between Microsoft and Kaiser Permanente earlier this month to share data between HealthVault, Microsoft's central repository for patient health records, and Kaiser's My HealthManager e-records systems.

Through Microsoft's deal with AT&T and Covisint, people using HealthVault can share information with physicians and health care providers that connect up using AT&T's Healthcare Community Online VPN-based portal and Covisint's On-Demand Healthcare Platform software.

While AT&T provides broadband access and a dashboard for physicians to access health care information, Covisint provides the underlying software that vets patient information and makes it available to the Healthcare Community Online portal, said Brett Furst, vice president of health care at Covisint.

Microsoft's HealthVault acts as an online storage system for patient information; patients have the power to choose what information they want to store in the vault and make available to physicians and health care providers.

The success of HealthVault depends on third parties, such as hospitals and insurance companies, being willing to open up protocols to their own information systems to communicate and store information with the system. This requires Microsoft and those parties to develop relationships of trust.

Covisint and AT&T teamed in February to provide a secure online-based exchange for patient health care information in the state of Tennessee called the eHealth Exchange Zone.

About two years ago, Microsoft focused its efforts in health care on helping companies such as health-insurance providers and patients share information securely over the Web. Competitor Google also is piloting similar offerings.

Microsoft first unveiled HealthVault in October as a beta release; the company expects HealthVault to go into full production release by the end of the year.

In addition to its partnerships with Kaiser and now AT&T and Covisint, Microsoft also is piloting data exchange for HealthVault with the Mayo Clinic and New York Presbyterian Hospital.

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