Denver Health sees dividends with Microsoft chronic condition management

A chronic condition management platform, deployed by Microsoft at Denver Health Medical Center, a safety net hospital in Colorado, is helping clinicians improve case management, customer outreach and analytics – and is reducing the costs associate with the readmission of diabetes patients.

Officials say the platform could well lay the foundation for a larger program designed to encourage patients to self-manage conditions.

"The onset of an aging population and the increase of chronic diseases is adding extreme costs to our healthcare system," says Jack Hersey, general manager, U.S. Public Sector Health and Human Services at Microsoft. He points out that roughly 83 percent of all healthcare spending is on managing chronic illness, and that diabetes alone costs U.S. $83 billion annually.

"That's something that technology can really help address," he says.

[See also: PHR portal could improve chronic disease management.]

With diabetes affecting more than 25 million people, Denver Health saw a value in enlisting Microsoft's bidirectional chronic condition management (CCM) platform to enable between-visit patient-provider communication for its high-risk diabetes patients.

The technology facilitates patient-provided data collection through text message queries to diabetic patients about home blood sugar measurements and also facilitates sending reminders to patients of upcoming appointments.

Case coordinators at Denver Health then review self-reported patient data and follow up with patients by phone, in accordance with established clinical guidelines.

The CCM platform uses several integrated Microsoft technologies, including Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft SQL Server 2008. That software is coupled with healthcare process design and technology development from Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC Corp., which can help create a flexible platform for providers of any size to address a number of chronic diseases.

In the first phase of Denver Health’s CCM program, patients both responded to the text messages and improved their home glucose monitoring. Providers reported on the engagement of patients around their diabetes care and on the identification of patients suffering from low blood sugar.

“The long-standing model of chronic disease management through the standard provider office visit does not support the patients’ need to manage their disease on a daily basis," said Andy Steele, MD, director of Medical Informatics at Denver Health. "We believe that using bidirectional communications within a chronic condition management system may be an effective method to provide care for chronic conditions beyond the traditional clinic setting.”