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New Microsoft Initiative Provides Health Plans With Technology That Improves the Costs of Doing Business and Managing Healthcare

Horizon, Premera and U.K. National Health Service Among Customers Already Realizing Business and Patient Success With Microsoft-

WASHINGTON, April 17 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Microsoft Corp. today announced the launch of Knowledge Driven Health Plans, the company's shared vision and solutions framework for the health plan industry. Under the initiative, health plans can leverage the deep industry expertise of Microsoft's business solutions partners, and capitalize on the proven ability of Microsoft(R) software to connect people and systems, to drive better-informed decisions across members, providers, employers and industry partners. In this collaborative environment, people across health plans are empowered to drive innovations and business efficiencies that can ultimately improve accessibility and affordability of high-quality healthcare. The announcement came as Microsoft participates in the third annual World Health Care Congress in Washington, D.C.

(Logo: http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20000822/MSFTLOGO )

As health plans face mounting pressure to respond to the rising costs of healthcare, growing member and provider expectations, intense competition, regulation, and the inefficiencies of a fragmented care-delivery ecosystem, Microsoft's Knowledge Driven Health Plans solutions framework delivers a technology platform that enables seamless business transformation. Microsoft and its industry partners are able to provide health plans with integrated solutions that improve collaboration and access to information, empowering people to make business and healthcare decisions that are based on the best evidence available.

"The need for health plans to innovate is more critical today than ever before in the face of rising healthcare costs and a system that is shifting consumers toward the center of the decision-making process," said Dennis Schmuland, M.D., industry director for health plans at Microsoft. "Microsoft and its industry partners are delivering technologies and solutions that enable health plans to substantially improve the health and experience of the consumer while holding costs down."

Microsoft's Knowledge Driven Health Plans initiative is being launched with the support of 22 leading industry partners to provide a solutions framework that targets improved business and health performance. Health plans adopting Microsoft-based solutions can benefit from the company's established consumer community; the cost and maintenance advantages afforded by its technology platform, applications and online services; and the flexibility built into Microsoft's technology.

The solutions framework developed for the health plan industry harnesses the strengths of Microsoft's proven and integrated technology systems, including its .NET Framework, BizTalk(R) Server, Windows Server System(TM), Windows(R) Communication Foundation, SQL Server(TM) and the 2007 Microsoft Office system. Built on open standards such as Extensible Markup Language (XML) and Web services, Microsoft technology enables seamless integration with legacy systems and facilitates business agility, which is critical as health plans undergo significant business transformation in response to a rapidly changing industry landscape.

"Technology continues to be an integral driver in helping health plans adapt to changing market dynamics," said Cynthia Burghard, research director at Gartner Inc. "In using technology that is based on open standards, health plans benefit from greater flexibility, allowing for integration with existing IT investments and adoption of new technology frameworks like service-oriented architectures."

Under Microsoft's vision and solutions framework, health plan employees are able to connect islands of information for improved collaboration and knowledge delivery, driving more informed decisions. The solutions based on this framework span key business areas, including care management to business intelligence, enterprisewide project management to risk management and risk compliance, and member-centric communications. Industry customers around the world are realizing business success under the Knowledge Driven Health Plans vision and solutions framework.

Health Plans Realizing Success With Microsoft Horizon Healthcare Services Inc. (Horizon) Connecting for Business Success

An independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association in New Jersey, Horizon recently deployed Microsoft BizTalk Server to provide translation and orchestration services for its provider portal applications and HIPAA transactions.

With Microsoft's technology in place, Horizon has achieved improved visibility into transactions, increased first-call resolution of support requests, and it projects a 50 percent reduction in cost of ownership.

Premera Blue Cross (Premera) Collaborating for Patient Success

An independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, Premera Blue Cross provides health coverage and benefit services to a broad range of clients, from individuals to Fortune 100 companies including Microsoft. Working with Microsoft technology, case managers at Premera have developed new tools to coordinate complex patient treatment programs. The tool helps case managers set their priorities, track their work and show outstanding tasks more efficiently. The solution has realized a 25 percent increase in efficiency and a 17 percent increase in case manager job satisfaction. It has also expanded case-management capacity worth $9.6 million (U.S.) and helped Premera improve support for patients with complex medical needs.

National Health Service (NHS) Enabling More Informed Decisions

The NHS provides healthcare for 59.6 million citizens of the U.K. In anticipation of a greater number of patients and healthcare providers needing to access information using its Web site, the NHS realized that it needed to improve site performance. After migrating to Microsoft ASP.NET 2.0, the organization saw a fivefold increase in performance and up to a 40 percent increase in developer productivity. Now meeting customer service and accessibility mandates, and exceeding performance expectations, the NHS is poised to improve patient service even more in the future.

Microsoft's knowledge-driven initiative for the health plan industry reflects the company's "People-Ready" business vision, which is based on the belief that people are the ultimate drivers of business success. Health plans that are people-ready businesses can effectively use Microsoft's software across the enterprise to harness information, enabling people to turn data into insight, transform ideas into action, and turn change into opportunity.

About Microsoft in Healthcare and Life Sciences

Microsoft provides standards-based products and technology to help the healthcare and life sciences industries break down information barriers between the disparate IT environments across pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies, physicians and healthcare professionals, provider organizations, government and private-sector employers, health insurers, and consumers. Microsoft's vision for knowledge-driven health utilizes the company's market-leading technology to help these groups integrate their systems, dramatically enhance collaboration, and increase information sharing and learning -- ultimately resulting in the ability to deliver high-quality products and services to patients and healthy consumers worldwide. More information about Microsoft in Healthcare and Life Sciences can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/healthcare .

More information about Microsoft's solutions for the health plans industry can be found at http://www.microsoft.com/healthplans .

About Microsoft

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

NOTE: Microsoft, BizTalk, Windows Server System and Windows are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Microsoft Corp. in the United States and/or other countries.

The names of actual companies and products mentioned herein may be the trademarks of their respective owners.

Microsoft Corp.

CONTACT: Tracey Ferriss, +1-425-201-2055, or [email protected], or Sarah
Sundby, +1-425-201-2046, or [email protected], both of SS+K, for Microsoft

Web site: http://www.microsoft.com/

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