Microsoft taps into mHealth

Will work on diabetes pilot project
By Erin McCann
10:52 AM
Man using smartphone
With nearly 26 million Americans living with diabetes -- and racking up $245 billion in costs each year -- many stakeholders have been looking for innovative ways to help those individuals better keep tabs on their condition. With its new mobile health project, Microsoft is the latest company to offer a diabetes management platform.
Microsoft on Thursday announced it was inking a deal with wireless provider TracFone to extend mHealth technology to underserved and high-risk populations, specifically aimed at patients living with diabetes. 
The two companies have teamed up with Miami-based Health Choice Network to launch a pilot program aimed at examining how access to mobile technology affects patient disease-management and outcomes. 
Through the pilot project, HCN will provide smartphones to some 100 patients enrolled in the Care Management Medical Home Center diabetes pilot, complete with short message service abilities and Microsoft's HIPAA-compliant email and messaging communications. Patients will have the ability to access Microsoft's HealthVault, the company's Web-based platform that allows patients to store their protected health information and stay on top of medication adherence.

The platform, officials say, will also allow patients to receive appointment reminders and keep track of glucose levels.  

"Putting existing technologies to use for today's patients will help improve healthcare, coordination and outcomes, as well as better manage costs," said Lee Stevens, director of health information exchange policy and interoperability at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, in an Aug. 21 statement. "Combining the power of a smartphone with a personal health record platform that brings disparate data together in a secure environment is an important step toward the goal of providing better patient engagement and more mobile healthcare in the U.S."
This is not the only healthcare-related project Microsoft has signed on with, officials note.
"Microsoft is in the process of developing additional pilot projects, but our first one, which is scheduled to launch by the end of the year, will involve Health Choice Network of Miami, Florida," said Steve Aylward, general manager of solutions and strategy for U.S. Health and Life Sciences at Microsoft, in an emailed statement.
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