Microsoft Corp and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) today announced the launch of the Microsoft Health Users Group (MS-HUG) in Asia-Pacific, providing regional healthcare organisations and technology partners with access to an online forum to facilitate the development of healthcare solutions. The MS-HUG forum is a venue for influencers and developers of healthcare technology solutions to collaborate and contribute to aspects of solutions built on Microsoft software platforms. It allows the healthcare technology community to discover new uses for existing technology, provide development support, network with peers, and to discuss needs and desires arising from the current use of healthcare IT. It is currently accessible to healthcare organisations and technology partners in North America, Europe, Middle-East and Africa (EMEA). “Extending Microsoft HUG to the APAC healthcare community provides an expanded forum for collaboration and the sharing of knowledge and experience across a growing ecosystem of health organisations and technology partners,” says Gabe Rijpma, Health Industry Director at Microsoft Asia Pacific. “Collaboration enables the ecosystem to better demonstrate how technology can help solve healthcare challenges in the region and improve health costs, quality, and access for citizens.” The forum is designed to allow technology partners to gain insight into healthcare specific requirements, improve their ability to target technology innovation, help health organisations improve service delivery, and achieve a stronger return on technology investments. “This is brought about by sharing knowledge with others in the MS-HUG community who have overcome similar challenges,” Rijpma says. After several successful years of collaboration, MS-HUG’s diverse membership has grown to include more than 5,000 members and 31 corporate supporters across North America, Europe, Middle-East and Africa (EMEA).This community is united by a shared interest in implementing vendor- and user-developed software based on Microsoft technology to improve healthcare quality and efficiency, while reducing complexity and cost. Steven Yeo, Vice President, and Executive Director for HIMSS Asia Pacific, offered his view on MS-HUG’s contribution to healthcare in APAC: “MS-HUG enables us to further promote our mission to lead change in the healthcare information and management systems field through knowledge sharing, advocacy, collaboration, innovation, and community affiliation. Our goal is to drive better patient care, and this is another step in that direction.” The launch of MS-HUG in Asia-Pacific supports Microsoft’s vision of improving healthcare outcomes for citizens. “Our priority is to enable better and further collaboration between technology and people to break down the information barriers that exist between the disparate IT environments across the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries,” says Rijpma. “Through solution accelerators that enable interoperability in key areas such as secure messaging, clinical information worker and clinical data manipulation, we can enable solutions that are otherwise not available to existing healthcare IT environments. “One of our most prominent projects for healthcare globally is the Microsoft Common User Interface (CUI): a set of components that developers can use to create healthcare applications. Recently we have released several new components including a terminology component incorporating ‘Standardised Nomenclature of Medicine’ (SNOMED) services. This project serves as an example of how Microsoft’s philosophy of knowledge-driven health can combine with the expertise of our partner, in this case HealthLanguage, to produce positive outcomes.” HealthLanguage, a US-based health IT applications developer, shares Microsoft’s vision. Speaking at the launch of MS-HUG, Marc Horowitz, Senior Vice-President, HealthLanguage Inc. said: “The diverse nature of healthcare requires partners to collaborate effectively to respond to the various needs of professionals involved. By offering healthcare professionals the ability to simply, quickly, and accurately enter and access clinical information, this combination of technologies supportsboth companies’ shared goal of providing easy-to-use, standardized solutions that enhance patient care and safety.” The Microsoft HUG APAC community, hosted within the existing Microsoft HUG site (http://www.mshug.org), will give members access to a resource that connects solutions, experts and peers to a wider sphere of influence and education. Members receive the following benefits:.Access to the latest solutions and technology from leading minds at Microsoft and independent industry experts .A forum for voicing opinions, learning from peers and helping shape the future of healthcare IT.Opportunities to network with professionals who can enhance careers.Online interaction to help professionals connect with others With the launch of the APAC community, Microsoft and HIMSS believe they will be able to strengthen their commitment to serve the healthcare industry through a shared strategic vision – to provide industry leadership, drive appropriate standards, and develop associated requirements in support of healthcare solutions. Those interested in signing up for Microsoft HUG APAC should visit http://www.mshug.org, for further information.