Microsoft to Help Department of Defense Manage Health Care Data
> 3/5/2007 1:25:48 PM

The Department of Defense (DOD) announced a major development deal with Microsoft this month, which will see the software giant guide the construction and deployment of a system to help manage and track electronic patient medical records. This new deal marks a positive step toward bringing together the health information for the over 9.1 million patients who receive benefits from the DOD. As Government Health IT explains:

Under the cooperative research and development agreement, Microsoft will work with the Army's Telemedicine and Advanced Technology Research Center to extract, store and analyze data stored in DODís Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application (AHLTA) electronic health record system.

The AHLTA clinical data repository (CDR) is ďan untapped goldmine of health information, and the ability to draw upon and efficiently use this data will allow us to unleash the true power of AHLTA," said Dr. William Winkenwerder Jr., assistant secretary of Defense for health affairs. "This project has the potential to vastly improve our ability to provide both force health protection and population health improvement activities for every soldier, sailor, airman and Marine.Ē

Some, including Dr. Deborah Peel of the Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, have expressed concerns about the safety of the information that will all be stored electronically. While certainly, security needs to be a major concern as this program moves forward, the benefits of this type of program are too enormous to ignore.

AHLTA's system will provide assistance and service in many areas, and mental health looks to be one area where changes will have an impact even more greatly than in others. Researchers and officers will also now have access to an incredible store of aggregate information that will help identify trends, problem areas and successes. This deal should be the first step forward in an important and necessary change of strategy that will result in positive outcomes in many areas.

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