Cleveland Clinic, Microsoft tackle chronic disease

Cleveland Clinic Chief Information Officer C. Martin Harris, MD, and Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of Microsoft Health Solutions Group are talking about a collaboration that is, in Harris's words, "fundamentally changing the paradigm of chronic disease management."


The pilot project, unveiled at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society's annual conference last month, pairs the Cleveland Clinic's electronic medical record system with Microsoft's HealthVault service. It involves home monitoring of more than 250 patients who are suffering from hypertension, diabetes, and heart failure.

The enrollees were each given "the appropriate combination of technology prescribed by their physician," says Harris – heart rate monitors, glucometers, blood pressure monitors – and "used the devices to capture data."

That information was then relayed, via Microsoft HealthVault's security-enhanced online data storage platform, back to physicians at the clinic who accessed it via the patients' EMRs.

Pointing out that 75 cents of every healthcare dollar is spent on chronic conditions, Harris said the pilot project aimed to find an alternative to managing those ailments episodically, with visit after visit to the doctor's office increasing costs without necessarily improving care.

Instead, he said, a way forward was sought to make disease management "a continuous process," with "regular course corrections."

Harris noted that more clinical research was necessary, but early results have been very promising, with patients able to increase the time between visits to the doctor's office – some of them significantly.

"We are delighted to work with the Cleveland Clinic on this project," says Neupert. "Technology can improve health."

Randall C. Starling, MD, section head of heart failure and cardiac transplant medicine at the Cleveland Clinic, agrees. "When treating heart failure patients, timely intervention is crucial when complications arise, so that we can prevent serious problems that may require emergency room visits or readmissions,” he said. "The ability to monitor weight, blood pressure and activity levels of heart failure patients on a regular basis ensures more timely doctor visits and avoidance of more expensive interventions."

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