For developers who write software for in health and life science ISVs, you'll be interested in V4 of Consumer Engagement Reference Architecture (CERA) and how you incorporate HealthVault, Windows Live, and other online services. HealthVault helps consumers collect, store, use and share their personal health information in a security-enhanced environment.

CERA v4 is composed of a working demo and documentation, as well as soon-to-be released guidance, architectural blueprints and freely available code. And it is a stand-alone module of the Connected Health Framework for Health Plans.

The interaction of CERA v4 with HealthVault 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.

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.

You'll be able to download CERA v4 from MSDN's Healthcare Industry Center in July. For more information about Microsoft's initiatives in healthcare, see Microsoft in Health and Life Sciences. Those interested in more information or in viewing a demo of CERA v4 should contact hlthplan@microsoft.com.

The Connected Health Framework for Health Plans provides standards-based products and technology to help the health and life sciences industries break down information barriers between the disparate IT environments across pharmaceutical, biotechnology and medical device companies, physicians and health professionals, provider organizations, government and private-sector employers, health insurers, and consumers.

The Connected Health Framework for Health & Human Services for those companies that work with state and local governments also received an update earlier this week. To learn more, see Microsoft, Partners Unveil Architecture For Health & Human Services on our blog.