- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A software system developed at Washington Hospital Center that keeps track of all of a patient’s information is now a Microsoft product.

Microsoft, which announced the acquisition yesterday, has not set a date for when the software will be commercially available. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

The Azyxxi software puts patient data from various sources into one system. Doctors and nurses can use Azyxxi to access everything from the medication a patient is taking to video angiograms, or X-rays of the arteries, according to one of the system’s creators.

“Medicine is an incredibly data-rich environment,” said Mark Smith, chairman of the emergency department at Washington Hospital Center.

Previously, data was found in different places, Dr. Smith said. A doctor in the emergency department would look up lab results in one system, find an electrocardiogram, or EKG, in another system, walk to the radiology department to get an X-ray, find a radiologist to interpret the X-ray, and request the patient’s old charts from medical records — and they may not even have been able to find each piece of information they need.

“Right now we have succeeded in putting every piece of information on a patient on a single interface,” Dr. Smith said. “No piece of data is more than two clicks and an eighth of a second away.”

The software allows clinicians to work more efficiently and better focus on patients, said Kenneth A. Samet, president and chief operating officer of MedStar Health, a nonprofit health care organization and network of seven hospitals in the Washington and Baltimore areas, including Washington Hospital Center, Georgetown University Hospital and Union Memorial Hospital in Baltimore.

Although the industry is technologically advanced, it has not moved to improve operations at the facilities themselves, said Peter Neupert, corporate vice president of Health Solutions at Microsoft.

“It’s a big, comprehensive problem where we think software can make a difference,” Mr. Neupert said.

Dr. Smith said he and the other two creators of Washington Hospital Center’s system made sure it was in accord with the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which established patient-privacy rules. The system requires a password to log in and is tailored to each department that uses Azyxxi, so users can access only pertinent information.

The system also has a mechanism that tracks where someone logs in from and every piece of information the user looks up.

Mr. Samet said Dr. Smith brought with him the idea to integrate patient data when he was named chairman of the emergency department in 1996.

Dr. Smith worked with Fidrik Iskandar, a Microsoft software developer, and Craig Feied, director of the Institute for Medical Informatics at Washington Hospital Center, to develop such a program for the emergency department. Dr. Smith said clinicians from other departments, such as intensive care, started using emergency’s system and requested it for their own departments.

Azyxxi became the official system for Washington Hospital Center a few years ago, and Mr. Samet said all of MedStar’s healthcare facilities now use Azyxxi.

As part of the deal, Dr. Feied, Mr. Iskandar and 40 Washington Hospital Center employees will work for Microsoft to develop and expand Azyxxi. Mr. Neupert said Microsoft will continue to consult with Dr. Smith on clinical issues.

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