Microsoft Launches New Version of Consumer Engagement Reference Architecture for Health Plans - With Guidance for 'Cloud'-Based Services

Thursday, June 19, 2008 General News
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SAN FRANCISCO, June 18 Spurring health plans toproactively engage consumers, Microsoft Corp. today announced the release ofits Consumer Engagement Reference Architecture (CERA) version 4, providingguidance for the first time to help payers connect to "in the cloud" platformsand services such as HealthVault, Windows Live and more.


As a stand-alone module under the Connected Health Framework for HealthPlans -- launched in 2007 -- CERA v4 is composed of a working demo anddocumentation, as well as soon-to-be released guidance, architecturalblueprints and freely available code. CERA v4 builds upon prior releases ofCERA by adding guidance for health plans to connect with HealthVault --Microsoft's consumer health platform -- Windows Live and other onlineservices.

"Health plans face a challenge in engaging consumers in their health, asevidenced by low member portal traffic and adoption rates," said DennisSchmuland, U.S. health plans industry solutions director at Microsoft. "TheConsumer Engagement Reference Architecture provides guidance to health plansand solution partners on effective ways to accelerate consumer adoption byplacing them in control of their health and health information - and keepingthem engaged over the course of their lifetimes."

The interaction of CERA v4 with HealthVault, a technology platform thathelps consumers collect, store, use and share their personal healthinformation in a security-enhanced environment, is critical to keepingconsumers engaged, as it puts them at the center of their health decisions andinformation, while enabling the exchange of information among different healthservices and devices at their discretion. It is designed to help members storean array of health records in their HealthVault accounts, including continuityof care documents, prescription medication lists, health histories, hospitaldischarge summaries, lab test results, fitness data and Web search results.

CERA v4 also features authenticated sign-on via Microsoft's LiveIDtechnology, and software-generated "moments of participation," which aremeaningful interactions with people, software agents, natural interfaces anddevices that make positive health changes more natural for the consumer. These"moments" are enabled by extending health plan information and interactivityto multiple channels and are powered by Web 2.0 technology such as MicrosoftSilverlight 2.0. In fact, CERA v4 provides guidance to health plans on how touse Silverlight Mobile to extend their experiences to mobile devices, allowingit to meet consumers within the context of their digital lifestyles. Mashuptechnology utilizes the Microsoft platform to bring data from differentsources together in one display, so that health plans can manipulate providerdata to be mapped to geographical and cost treatment information, for example.

Additional guidance within CERA v4 includes how to use voice-recognitiontechnology from Tellme Networks Inc., a Microsoft subsidiary, as well asnatural-language technology powered by Microsoft Automated Service Agents,which helps health plan organizations extend the impact of human coaches, caremanagers and providers by engaging consumers in conversations and allowingthem to ask for help in their own words. Consumers can report daily or weeklyprogress on key health measures, and receive reminders for key events such astaking medications and getting preventative tests.

Those interested in more information or in viewing a demo of CERA v4should contact The CERA v4 code and design blueprintwill be available by July 2008 at no cost (connect-time charges may apply) fordownload from the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Healthcare IndustryCenter at

About the Connected Health Framework f

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