Last Thursday, U.S. Department of
Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt awarded a consortium
led by Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) one of four contracts to develop
prototypes for a Nationwide Health Information Network. As a member of
the consortium, Microsoft Corp. will play a key role in the
development, providing Microsoft(R) .NET technology to drive interoperable
software solutions between MA-SHARE and the other regional entities
participating in the CSC-led group: Indiana Health Information Exchange and
Mendocino HRE of California.

Based on Microsoft’s integrated technology, the MA-SHARE prototype
represents a regional collaboration of health insurers and healthcare
providers, universities, pharmacies, advocacy and interest groups,
governmental bodies, and employers. Focusing on four pilot sites within
MA-SHARE membership, the initiative promotes the interorganizational exchange
of healthcare data using information technology, open industry standards and
administrative simplification. It was chosen for its perceived ability to
accelerate a more secure and seamless transfer of health information across
the United States.

“This national architecture project will enable clinicians to more
securely exchange the healthcare information they need to make better
treatment decisions,” said John Halamka, M.D., M.S., chief information officer
of Harvard Medical School and CareGroup Healthcare System and chairman of the
New England Healthcare Electronic Data Interchange Network. “Because a
multitude of technology platforms exist in healthcare organizations across the
country, a middleware approach based on Web services will empower rapid
connectivity with minimal intrusion into existing systems.”

Microsoft’s .NET platform embraces open standards and Web services, and
benefits from the more than $7 billion that Microsoft invests in research and
development every year. It has been proved successful in providing seamless
integration and interoperability in many industries, including healthcare.

Within the CSC-led consortium, Microsoft’s technology has effectively
demonstrated interoperability with the Web services platforms employed by the
Indiana Health Information Exchange and Mendocino HRE, a capability that
eventually can be scaled across the nationwide network.

“At Microsoft, interoperability is designed into our software products
from the ground up, because we believe that the exchange of information at any
level should be a seamless experience,” said Steve Shihadeh, general manager
of Healthcare and Life Sciences at Microsoft. “The proven success of our
platform in the MA-SHARE initiative is an encouraging indication that the
healthcare industry will reach its goal of a nationwide health information