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


CERA v4 connects with Microsoft HealthVault and Windows Live, and provides guidance on using Silverlight 2.0 to create compelling user experiences.

SAN FRANCISCO — June 2008 — Spurring health plans to proactively engage consumers, Microsoft Corp. today announced the release of its Consumer Engagement Reference Architecture (CERA) version 4, providing guidance for the first time to help payers connect to “in the cloud” platforms and services such as HealthVault, Windows Live and more.

As a stand-alone module under the Connected Health Framework for Health Plans — launched in 2007 — CERA v4 is composed of a working demo and documentation, as well as soon-to-be released guidance, architectural blueprints and freely available code. CERA v4 builds upon prior releases of CERA by adding guidance for health plans to connect with HealthVault — Microsoft’s consumer health platform — Windows Live and other online services.

“Health plans face a challenge in engaging consumers in their health, as evidenced by low member portal traffic and adoption rates,” said Dennis Schmuland, U.S. health plans industry solutions director at Microsoft. “The Consumer Engagement Reference Architecture provides guidance to health plans and solution partners on effective ways to accelerate consumer adoption by placing them in control of their health and health information — and keeping them engaged over the course of their lifetimes.”

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

CERA v4 also features authenticated sign-on via Microsoft’s LiveID technology, and software-generated “moments of participation,” which are meaningful interactions with people, software agents, natural interfaces and devices that make positive health changes more natural for the consumer. These “moments” are enabled by extending health plan information and interactivity to multiple channels and are powered by Web 2.0 technology such as Microsoft Silverlight 2.0. In fact, CERA v4 provides guidance to health plans on how to use Silverlight Mobile to extend their experiences to mobile devices, allowing it to meet consumers within the context of their digital lifestyles. Mashup technology utilizes the Microsoft platform to bring data from different sources together in one display, so that health plans can manipulate provider data to be mapped to geographical and cost treatment information, for example.

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

Those interested in more information or in viewing a demo of CERA v4 should contact The CERA v4 code and design blueprint will be available by July 2008 at no cost (connect-time charges may apply) for download from the Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) Healthcare Industry Center at


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