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AT&T, Microsoft Electrify Healthcare

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) is slipping the healthcare industry a prescription for the information age.

The telco announced today that through a partnership with Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Covisint, it is offering a nationwide healthcare information exchange system. AT&T claims the system could lower the costs of delivering healthcare in the U.S. (See AT&T, MSFT Deliver e-Health.)

Covisint, a subsidiary of Compuware Corp. (Nasdaq: CPWR), offers a hosted software service called OnDemand Health Platform -- a virtual private networking (VPN) portal where doctors and hospital employees can enter and share patient data such as x-rays, medical history, and other medical data.

Back in February, Covisint picked AT&T to provide the broadband network to deliver this service. Now the two sides are adding Microsoft to the mix.

With its HealthVault service, Microsoft will allow patients themselves to access the system, letting them enter their own personal health data and, with their consent, share it with their physician.

Way back in 1999, administrative healthcare costs in the U.S. totaled nearly $300 billion, or 31 percent of total healthcare expenditures, according to the New England Journal of Medicine. And that was nearly 10 years ago.

In theory, an information exchange service could lower those costs. Doctors could prescribe medication to patients online, retrieve the records of new patients without the costly process of obtaining the paper records from previous physicians, and diagnose patients more accurately.

This is not AT&T's first crack at a widescale e-health initiative. In February, the telco announced a similar VPN-based healthcare data system developed for, and in partnership with, the state of Tennessee. (See AT&T Delivers e-Health.)

But this latest development is a nationwide service. Systems such as Tennessee's are less effective if they are not standardized and interoperable with outside systems in other parts of the country.

AT&T is basing these e-health systems on MPLS networks backed by two patents. One enables the secure exchange of electronic health care data among legacy systems of healthcare providers, while the other outlines a virtual physician office system to enable the secure use of network-based healthcare information systems.

To ensure compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the system's VPN-based portal is used in tandem with "dual-factor" authentication of healthcare providers. Passed in 1996, HIPAA aims to protect the privacy of health records.

— Raymond McConville, Reporter, Light Reading

corwin0 12/5/2012 | 3:37:59 PM
re: AT&T, Microsoft Electrify Healthcare Does anyone else feel just a bit odd about:

1) a company that was involved in, shall we say, "interesting" values judgements about constitutional privacy and the government, getting in bed with,
2) a certified monopolist who has shown tendencies of supporting proprietary protocols that it then discards later (abandoning users and data in the process),

Promising to be good custodians of your personal medical history? Must just be my natural paranoid tendencies kicking in....

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