Posted by Peter Neupert 

Corporate Vice President, Health Solutions Group

(Cross-posted from Neupert on Health)

Peter Neupert
Peter Neupert, Corporate Vice President, Health Solutions Group

It was just about a year ago at last year’s HIMSS (Health Information Management Systems Society) conference that I posted about the need to “liberate the data” within health IT systems – separating data from applications and making it available for reuse in different contexts.  What I said then holds true now.  For health enterprises and consumers, health data is a vital asset that can move us toward a more efficient, higher quality, evidence-based future for medicine.

While we still have a long way to go, a year later I’m encouraged by a couple of developments that indicate we’re moving in the right direction – and actually making some real progress!

First, the draft regulations on “meaningful use” include a focus on the exchange of data – acknowledging that physicians need real-time access to comprehensive patient data to improve quality, safety and efficiency, and to coordinate care effectively.  The draft legislation also recognizes that engaging patients and families in managing their own health is paramount – requiring that providers make patient data accessible soon after those visits happen.  For the first time, the proposed rule-making puts a stake in the ground with real ‘sticks’ and ‘carrots’ – a significant milestone in putting the foundational drivers for change in place.

Second, I’m very excited about the strategic alliance with Eclipsys that we announced last week.    This is a key milestone for two leaders in the health IT space to be a driving force in enabling data to become liquid.  Both companies share a common vision – of an open architecture for future-flexible IT – which is critical for our customers and their customers to improve the care they provide.  As part of the partnership, a richer set of data from Eclipsys systems will be available within Amalga UIS.  Using their expertise in developing healthcare applications, Eclipsys will offer modules that run on top of Amalga.  The combination of these Eclipsys products and Amalga UIS will give customers access to data across the enterprise and support workflows that leverage this liberated data.  

I’ve invited Phil Pead, CEO of Eclipsys, to share his thoughts on the partnership.

The alliance we have created with Microsoft is part of an overall strategy by Eclipsys to break away from the tradition of closed, proprietary systems in healthcare. This notion that in order to have one patient one record everything must be purchased from a single vendor burdens healthcare with making unnecessary investments and limits the pace of innovation. Eclipsys has used the Microsoft .NET Platform technology to deliver its software applications since 2003. This agreement between our two companies marks a second, staged reversal from closed, proprietary monolithic systems. By opening our platform to third-party companies, such as Microsoft, we can deliver the choice and flexibility that hospitals need and want to improve health information technology in a demanding and dynamic healthcare environment. 

The new federal regulations surrounding the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and achieving “meaningful use” are a tipping point that is causing rapid change in how healthcare information is accessed. In addition, clinicians have been frustrated by not having critical information available to them at the point of care because either the information was spread across disparate systems, or they were unaware the patient data was available. These factors, among others, are creating higher costs and less time for patient care.

Our new agreement with Peter and his team brings Eclipsys one step closer to delivering on a vision of healthcare data set free. We plan to integrate key components of Eclipsys’ award winning Sunrise Enterprise suite of integrated software applications with Microsoft Amalga Unified Intelligence System (UIS).  The integration will further enhance the analytic capabilities we provide to our clients and allow clinicians within any hospital to have access to patient data regardless of the system in which it resides. No other industry relies upon a single vendor to do it all. We think it is time to stop this fundamentally flawed approach in healthcare.

We also are inviting other healthcare industry leaders, as well as small, entrepreneurial companies to build on our platform. So hospitals have the opportunity to use our suite of applications, keep their best of breed solutions, while benefiting from newer, innovative systems— all on one platform. We think this is the future of health technology.