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High-Powered Integration

May 29, 2007
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Johns Hopkins has implemented Microsoft's Azyxxi health data integration platform.

by Daphne Lawrence

In what looks to be a true vendor-partner relationship, Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins Health System (JHHS) recently implemented Microsoft's Azyxxi unified health enterprise platform for integrating clinical information.

Hopkins became the second health system — New York —PresbyterianHospital signed on earlier this year — to contract for the product the since the software giant acquired it from Baltimore/Washington, D.C.-based MedStar, where it was developed, last year.

The collaboration will further develop Azyxxi's features and functionality in both its clinical and research environments and identify best practices for the software's implementation and use, according to both Microsoft and Johns Hopkins. Azyxxi, they say, gives hospitals an instantaneous cross-view of patient data from diverse applications and can aggregate information across existing best-of-breed IT systems.

JHHS will initially use Azyxxi to focus on the Joint Commission's National Hospital Quality Measures. "We can respond to (information) requests with data that are valid, and we can do it without doing what everybody else is doing — chart reviews," said Steve Mandell, JHHS's senior director for clinical information systems. "You want to do it in real time."

Says Steve Shihadeh, general manager of sales, marketing and partners at Microsoft's Health Solution Group: "It is a complementary system. Unlike most systems today that involve rip and replace, Azyxxi can help leverage investments and provide a single version of the truth." For Hopkins' JCAHO focus, Azyxxi will initially help gather data for quality reporting, taking data from its Cerner (Kansas City, Mo.), Misys (Raleigh, N.C.), Siemens (Malverne, Pa.) and Eclipsys (Boca Raton, Fla.) systems.

"Azyxxi is like a giant sponge," says Mandell, "sucking up all these data streams and storing it in a new way that's different from the standard hierarchal model. It's able to absorb a new interface in hours as opposed to weeks or months. It's an elegant solution to pre-positioning data. The response time to queries is remarkable."

The view may be tailored and can be used by both clinicians and executives. It can also be customized by users so they can pick and choose what they see. "At MedStar, one clinical executive told me she used Azyxxi every morning to get a wholistic view of the organization, then in her dual role as a clinician, drilled down into the patient level," says Shihadeh, in an example.

"One of the problems that academic centers have is how to commingle data in profound ways to answer different questions," Mandell says. "Azyxxi is unique because it allows all of the data to be ingested with remarkable response time across massive data sets, whether the result you're looking for is patient safety-, CMS- or JCAHO-related."

Shihadeh agrees: "Savvy organizations are on their second generation of CPOE, major IT investments. They see how Azyxxi can complement that investment and tie together community medicine, academic medicine and research."

Mandell says his organization's adoption of Azyxxi can be viewed as a pilot, and one of the first goals is to aggregate data sets and to evaluate the ease of running performance measures.

"We'll be working with our clinical community to find what the best use may be," Mandell says. "Then, expand the array of data." Azyxxi, Mandell says, can make user queries that were not possible in the vendor system. "Users in the ED could run queries about diagnosis, how many kids with asthma were seen today, things like that. We'll select people to pilot new functions."

Microsoft is marketing the system on an early adopter basis. "We're approaching the market seriously and carefully, and want to do it right," said Shihadeh. "We were looking for experience-savvy places; New York-Presbyterian and Johns Hopkins fit that bill."