Microsoft Corp. and TracFone Wireless on Thursday announced a collaboration that will bring the benefits of smartphone technology and services to underserved and high-risk populations through a new mobile health management solution offered through providers and insurers. This approach expands on Microsoft’s commitment to healthcare and TracFone’s telecommunications expertise as the largest Lifeline provider and prepaid wireless leader. Microsoft and TracFone will work with Health Choice Network (HCN), a Miami-based company that manages and connects a network of community health centers with more than 760,000 patients in 17 states, to conduct a pilot project where HCN will provide smartphones to diabetes patients to help them better manage their care.
Building on the success of TracFone’s short message service, text and phone programs, the new solution will be offered on a Windows Phone and feature Microsoft’s familiar suite of services and solutions, such as Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft HealthVault, Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a variety of smartphone applications. It will combine enterprise-grade security and privacy features to allow security-enhanced, HIPAA-enabled email and messaging communications to patients regarding their health and regimens. In addition, it will provide appointment reminders with calendar functionality and remote device management that is standard with a Windows Phone.
“Putting existing technologies to use for today’s patients will help improve healthcare, coordination and outcomes, as well as better manage costs,” said Lee Stevens, director of Health Information Exchange Policy and Interoperability, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “Combining the power of a smartphone with a personal health record platform that brings disparate data together in a secure environment is an important step toward the goal of providing better patient engagement and more mobile healthcare in the U.S.”
Windows Phone already has built-in enterprise-grade safety and security features, as well as the ability to offer security-enhanced, HIPAA-enabled communications through Office 365. These features help patients, health providers and insurers retain control over important personal health information.
“With over 500,000 subscribers through SafeLink Health Solutions, we have seen firsthand the benefits of technology and the association between great health and a better quality of life,” said F.J. Pollak, president and CEO, TracFone. “We are excited to begin this program with Microsoft and HCN by bringing this innovative solution to market and helping our customers achieve their healthcare goals.”
Patients participating in the HCN pilot will receive a Windows Phone with TracFone’s prepaid services that will help them improve their engagement and manage their disease. The pilot’s goal is to demonstrate how access to mobile technology can help improve patient compliance, education and ultimately disease-related outcomes. HCN will develop a customer application to help participants provide consent, deliver and receive reminders, ensure treatment plan understanding, and aid in disease self-tracking for blood sugar levels and other vital health information. Patients will also have access to a variety of apps, including several that are specific to diabetes care, and other mobile devices connected to HealthVault to ensure the personal health records are pulling information from any devices they regularly use to help monitor important health information.
Because the solution will also be running on the Windows Phone 8.1 operating system, the mobile health solution will benefit from emerging Microsoft technologies such as Cortana personal assistant, which can help set reminders based on time, location, individual habits and preferences. For example, Cortana can remind patients to fill a prescription the next time it senses that they are near the pharmacy, or it can remind them to talk to a doctor about a specific concern the next time a doctor’s call or email is received.
“For several years, our patients with chronic health conditions like diabetes have benefited from access to their personal health record in HealthVault,” said Kevin Kearns, president and CEO, HCN. “We are excited to include a mobile smartphone to extend the platform for patient engagement and enhance our ability to provide, connect and utilize the tools to drive better outcomes. This is particularly timely as we focus on the tremendous growth in the Medicaid and individual market, whose enrollees traditionally are at higher risk for chronic disease and benefit most from patient engagement.”
“This solution brings together the strength of Microsoft’s comprehensive platform and productivity tools in an evolving mobile-first, cloud-first world,” said Michael Robinson, vice president, U.S. Health and Life Sciences, Microsoft. “Combined with TracFone’s strong presence in the Lifeline mobile marketplace, we have a unique opportunity to provide our joint insurer, provider and Medicaid agency customers with the platform and tools to enhance patient engagement and meet the requirements necessary to succeed in today’s healthcare marketplace.”
Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services, devices and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.
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