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Caritas' New Data Strategy Designed to Improve Care, Reduce Costs

Ben Cole, for HealthLeaders Media, October 23, 2009

Caritas Christi Health Care has announced a partnership with Microsoft on a system-wide data and patient relationship strategy that the Boston-based hospital network says will improve quality and reduce healthcare costs.

Using the Microsoft Amalga Unified Intelligence System, Caritas will aggregate patient data that was previously stored across multiple systems. The move will provide physicians with a real time, complete picture of a patient's medical history at the point of care, say Caritas officials.

"I think hospitals are starting to look at patient relationship management . . . and that we are going to go move from a fee-for-service model where doing more things makes us money to being in a mode where understanding patients' disease and preventing disease actually makes us money," says Todd Rothenhaus, MD, senior vice president and CIO at Caritas.

"The key to that, I think, is really understanding what kind of care is being delivered to our patients no matter where it occurs."

Caritas Christi serves 55 communities throughout Massachusetts and Rhode Island, so officials were searching for a way to solve data challenges faced the multiple providers, including inadequate tools for reporting and analysis, difficulty extracting data for reuse over time, and challenges connecting critical patient data stored in multiple systems.

The Amalga system will help address those needs, providing physicians and staff members with a single point of access to all data stored across many systems and a comprehensive view of patients, say Caritas officials.

"Our relationship with Microsoft will use technology to integrate our healthcare delivery system and accelerate our mission of using the full leverage of our six hospitals and 13,000 employees to deliver world class, community-based care," said Caritas Christi Health Care CEO Ralph de la Torre, MD, in a statement.

Also under the agreement, Caritas will enable patients in its communities to access their personal health data both inside and outside the hospital using Microsoft HealthVault, the personal health information platform.

This "patient empowerment" strategy will enable patients and caregivers access to and storage of their personal health information, including medical summary data, provider information, appointments, and insurance and billing information. Patients can then share this information, if they choose, with their physicians through HealthVault.

"You can look at data that's acquired through their personal health record and you are able to identify people who are at risk for the development of diseases and thereby intervene," Rothenhaus says. "If we know through HealthVault that their daily weights are increasing, we can intervene and call the patient and have them adjust their medication so they do not end up in the ER or hospital again."

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