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Virtua Health Selects Microsoft Amalga to Help Improve Patient Care
Date:3/17/2009

Seamless flow of data across the Network will help physicians make more informed, timely decisions.

MARLTON, N.J. and REDMOND, Wash., March 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Virtua Health, a four-hospital system recognized for excellence in clinical care and process improvement, has selected Microsoft Amalga, the unified intelligence system, as its health data platform to give physicians critical information and insight that help them improve the quality and efficiency of patient care.

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Physicians at Virtua Health will use Amalga to aggregate a wide range of clinical and patient data pulled from discrete sources across the Virtua Health Network to build unique views of that data. Amalga's aggregation capabilities will allow physicians to take a more comprehensive view of all of a patient's data to help make optimal decisions about a patient's care. In addition, physicians will use Amalga to stay closely connected to and informed about the status of their patient cases across the Virtua Health Network and to maintain continuity of care.

Well-known for its achievements in process improvement and Lean healthcare initiatives, Virtua Health recognized early that in order to continue to improve its processes, patient care and health outcomes, it needed more effective tools to aggregate and make better use of its clinical and other patient data, some of which was stored in isolated systems across its hospitals, as well as in clinics and other medical facilities.

"Providing our physicians with real-time access to comprehensive patient information is critical to improving the efficiency and quality of care," said Mark Van Kooy, M.D., medical director of informatics at Virtua Health. "Amalga will let us pull together data in new ways -- giving us transparency and streamlining key processes. Using Amalga, our physicians will spend less time tracking down information and more time making smart decisions and caring for patients."

As an example, a patient admitted to Virtua Health for the second of two knee replacements may have data from his first procedure stored throughout the hospital. The patient's data could be found in disparate technology systems that support the records of specialized departments responsible for anesthesia, blood, recovery and the operating room. There could also be data stored in a rehabilitation center, a nursing facility or with a primary care provider. Since these separate systems do not automatically exchange information, physicians could not easily get a complete view of the patient's previous experience at Virtua. Now, for the first time, physicians will have access to a complete set of a patient's data through Amalga. They can quickly pull up a customized view of all the data to see all the relevant clinical information about the patient in one place.

Virtua Health will create a unique view of health information with Amalga, "My Patients at Virtua," to provide physicians with customizable summaries of all of their patients' contacts with Virtua services within a certain timeframe, enabling them to stay updated on active cases. For instance, physicians can search by patients they have treated that day, sort by different encounters such as emergency care, admissions, radiology or lab results, or see all procedures an individual patient has had recently.

"If I am in a situation where I need the immediate status of a patient, as well as all results of my patient's encounters throughout the hospital, I will be able to access it in real time. As a practicing physician, this level of superior patient care is one of the most important benefits Amalga will bring," Dr. Van Kooy said.

Virtua Health will also create customized views with Amalga that will allow its physicians to review and analyze patient data in real time. Amalga's real-time patient tracking capabilities will create quicker access to inpatient information which, in turn, will allow doctors to scrutinize a patient's treatment more quickly and make adjustments, as necessary. Ultimately, Amalga gives Virtua Health the tools to improve care rather than report failures at the end of the month.

"With a new Congress and economic stimulus plan that provides incentives for healthcare information technology, using technology systems to ensure better patient outcomes has never been more important for healthcare providers," said Steve Shihadeh, vice president, Microsoft Health Solutions Group. "Not only will Amalga provide Virtua Health with the tools needed to help meet these standards, but it is flexible enough to grow with the organization as it accumulates more data, cares for more patients and seeks to answer new questions."

This nearly paperless healthcare provider also will use Amalga to enable continuity during system downtime, when physicians typically do not have access to electronic patient records or the electronic devices used to document patient updates. With Amalga, Virtua Health will aggregate data to create "look back" and "work forward" forms for each patient. The look back form will contain all patient data needed for ongoing care, and the work forward form will contain the workflow and protocols for patient evaluation and ongoing patient care. With these two forms, aggregated into a single document for each patient, Virtua Health can operate efficiently during rare extended system downtimes.

Microsoft Amalga addresses a common and critical challenge of healthcare providers -- how to integrate vast amounts of clinical, administrative and financial data that flow in and out of disparate information systems, and how to tailor that information for use by researchers, physicians, analysts, laboratory technicians, nurses and administrators. Amalga takes advantage of health enterprises' investments in existing health IT solutions and makes it possible for the entire organization to gain quick access to data and turn that information into critical knowledge that facilitates better decision-making and improved patient outcomes.

About Virtua Health

Virtua Health is a comprehensive healthcare system headquartered in Marlton, NJ. Its mission is to deliver a world-class patient experience through its programs of excellence in cancer treatment, cardiology, orthopedics, women's health, pediatrics, surgery, neuroscience and wellness. A non-profit organization, Virtua employs 7,900 clinical and administrative personnel, and approximately 1,800 physicians serve as medical staff members. Virtua has distinguished itself as one of the first Six Sigma organizations in healthcare, as an early adopter of clinical and digital technologies, and for its innovative partnerships with nationally renowned organizations such as GE Healthcare, Fox Chase Cancer Center and A.I. duPont Hospital for Children. It has been honored twice with the New Jersey Governor's award for Clinical Excellence (Bronze in 2005; Silver in 2006) and recognized with the Leadership Award for Outstanding Achievement by Voluntary Hospitals of America. Virtua has been honored as the #1 Best Employer in the Delaware Valley by the Philadelphia Business Journal two years in a row and is the recipient of the 2006/2007 and 2007/2008 Consumer Choice Awards by National Research Corporation. For more information, visit our website at www.virtua.org or call 1-888-VIRTUA-3 (1-888-847-8823).

About Microsoft in Health

Microsoft is committed to improving health around the world through software innovation. Over the past 12 years, Microsoft has steadily increased its investments in health, with a focus on addressing the challenges of health providers, health and social services organizations, payers, consumers and life sciences companies worldwide. Microsoft closely collaborates with a broad ecosystem of partners and develops its own powerful health solutions, such as Amalga and HealthVault. Together, Microsoft and its industry partners are working to advance a vision of unifying health information and making it more readily available, ensuring the best quality of life and affordable care for everyone.

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.


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SOURCE Microsoft Corp.
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