IBM launches 2 large health IT initiatives

The projects both involve data-sharing and home health monitoring equipment.

By Pamela Lewis Dolan — Posted Feb. 25, 2009

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IBM entered into two major partnerships in recent weeks, separate in scope but connected in the role they play in what the company sees as health care's future -- the patient-centered medical home.

The company first announced on Feb. 4 that in collaboration with Google and the Continua Health Alliance, it developed software that would enable data gathered from home health monitoring devices to be streamlined automatically into a patient's Google Health account. Continua is an alliance of more than 100 corporations established to address rising health care costs.

Unlike its competitor, Microsoft HealthVault, Google Health previously did not have the ability to interoperate with outside devices. Patients wanting to track personal health data had to enter the data into their personal health record accounts manually.

Roni Zeiger, MD, product manager for Google Health, said the data imported from home monitoring devices will be clearly marked.

Authenticated data will play a key role in another initiative with which IBM is involved. On Feb. 9, the company announced a separate project that will be carried out with UnitedHealthcare to launch the patient-centered medical home concept to seven medical groups in Arizona. The program will last through 2011 and involve about 7,000 patients and 26 physicians.

Under UnitedHealthcare's model, physician practices certified as a patient-centered medical home can be paid at least $50 per month, per patient.

The American Medical Association adopted the American Academy of Family Physician's definition of a patient-centered medical home in 2008 and is in support of the concept. Under the definition, care is coordinated across "all elements of the complex health care system," and "information technology is utilized appropriately to support optimal patient care, performance measurement, patient education and enhanced communication."

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