Originally posted in the Microsoft Official Blog.
The healthcare industry’s leading minds are getting ready to educate, intrigue, and inspire attendees next week at the HIMSS19 conference—a leading healthcare IT event in the US. We expect to see many innovative ideas and solutions to the most prevalent and persistent challenges in modern health, and we are excited to show new technologies making a real difference in people’s lives and demonstrate Microsoft’s commitment to transforming how healthcare is experienced and delivered.
Over the last few years, we have been learning alongside industry experts and making steady progress in helping health organizations navigate complex technology transformations. We have been so pleased by the enthusiastic response of the providers, payors, software developers, device manufacturers and pharmaceutical companies we’ve been working with.
But what drives us most is the profound impact on people. As we all look for more personalized and transparent approaches for healthcare services, technology transformation will help providers deliver modern patient experiences that promote patient engagement, satisfaction, and well-being while increasing the chances of more successful treatment.
This year at HIMSS, we will talk about how Microsoft’s technology and partnerships are helping empower care teams, improve clinical and operational outcomes and advance precision healthcare, with a specific focus on putting people’s privacy at the center. To kick things off, today we’re announcing several new innovations supporting the industry’s transformation:
- Microsoft 365 for health organizations: New capabilities in Microsoft Teams that enable healthcare teams to communicate and collaborate in a secure hub for teamwork.
- Microsoft Healthcare Bot: Now generally available, this service helps organizations create AI-powered, compliant virtual assistants and chatbots for a variety of healthcare experiences.
- Azure API for FHIR®: A new tool to help health systems interoperate and share data in the cloud.
Empowering health organizations with secure messaging and AI-powered tools
People are at the heart of healthcare – physicians, nurses, clinicians and of course, their patients. We are committed to empowering care teams with the tools they need to deliver their best care as well as empowering people as they interact with various aspects of the healthcare system.
When it comes to secure communications, many clinicians report having to choose between convenience and compliance. Adhering to compliance has often meant having to wait for critical information at the point of care. Conversely, many clinicians have turned to consumer messaging apps that facilitate communication but can compromise security.
Microsoft is working hard to ensure convenience and compliance are no longer a zero-sum equation. Today, we are announcing new capabilities in Microsoft Teams, a secure hub for teamwork that enables secure messaging and collaboration workflows that tap the wealth of patient information housed in electronic medical records.
Enable secure workflows in Microsoft Teams: The new priority notifications feature in Teams alerts a recipient of an urgent message on their mobile and desktop devices until a response is received, every two minutes for up to 20 minutes; message delegation enables clinical staff members to delegate their messages to another recipient when they are in surgery or otherwise unavailable. We are also announcing the ability to integrate FHIR-enabled electronic health records (EHR) data with Teams. The ability to view EHR data is enabled through partnerships with leading interoperability providers, including Dapasoft, Datica, Infor Cloverleaf, Kno2 and Redox. Clinical or hospital staff can securely access patient records in the same app where they can take notes, message with other team members, and start a video meeting, all in a single place to coordinate care.
For health organizations looking to optimize operational processes or create new experiences for their people and patients, we are also announcing the Microsoft Healthcare Bot general availability.
Microsoft Healthcare Bot: The Microsoft Healthcare Bot service is now generally available after first being introduced as a research project in 2017. It is designed to empower healthcare organizations to build and deploy compliant, AI-powered virtual health assistants and chatbots, and includes important features like healthcare intelligence, medical content and terminology, and a built-in symptom checker. The Microsoft Healthcare Bot service is fully extensible to help organizations adjust the bot to solve their own business problems, and can connect to health systems, like EHRs. In addition to partners like Premera, today we are announcing bots available, or available soon, from Quest Diagnostics, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Clalit Health Services.
Securely connecting data for better clinical and operational outcomes
Our bodies are a lot like complex computers, and each interaction with today’s health system creates a new data point. These data points are often spread across multiple records, with valuable insights somewhat hidden in siloes. Microsoft is committed to helping address this opportunity by developing technology that connects data and surfaces important insights at exactly the right time, with privacy and security at the core.
A better-connected healthcare system would provide clinicians with more complete profiles of their patients, researchers with more complete data to study, and individuals with more information to take ownership over their health. I hear this often from leading experts in the research and care delivery communities.
With this in mind, today we’re announcing the Azure API for FHIR, a tool to help health organizations better connect systems and harness the power of data in the cloud.
Azure API for FHIR: The Azure API for FHIR will provide a method for health systems and data to ‘talk’ – what is known as interoperability – so for example, health records can connect to collaboration tools, pharmacy systems, fitness devices and others far more seamlessly. Data and insights from this more connected system can then be served up when and where they’re needed most.
API is a term for technology that links software programs together. Similar to electrical outlets and plugs, APIs can most easily be compared to the adapters you need to use electronics while traveling in foreign countries. Though technical, its functionality is important to everyone who interacts with today’s healthcare systems, as interoperability is a foundational health technology need.
The Azure API for FHIR is available in public preview, and we have more than 25 technology partners in our early access program that can help health organizations build FHIR-enabled services today.
Advancing precision healthcare
Some of the most exciting breakthroughs at the intersection of science and technology are in precision healthcare. We all stand to gain from a health system that can precisely care for us based on our unique biology, environments and ailments. Cloud and advanced AI are the key tools that will help achieve that future.
To advance precision care, Microsoft continues to invest in a series of services and computational biology projects, including research support tools for next-generation precision healthcare, genomics, immunomics, CRISPR and cellular and molecular biologics.
For example, Microsoft Genomics, which provides accelerated sequencing and secondary analysis, enables research insights for organizations like St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital with the St. Jude Cloud, the world’s largest public repository of pediatric cancer genomics data.
Earlier this year, we published an update on our partnership with Adaptive Biotechnologies, announcing we’ve opened up our joint research to immunosequence 25,000 individuals, targeting ovarian cancer, pancreatic cancer, celiac disease, type 1 diabetes and Lyme disease.
Work also continues on several Microsoft Research projects, including intelligent scribe Project EmpowerMD, medical imaging Project InnerEye, machine reading Project Hanover and metagenomics Project Premonition. These projects are pushing the boundaries of how technology can be applied in healthcare and we are excited to see how they might be used by health organizations in the future.
Working with the experts
Improving healthcare is not a singular or silver bullet effort. Microsoft’s ambition is not to be a healthcare provider, but to enable and empower those who are doing good things for people around the world. We see strategic alliances with leaders like Walgreens Boots Alliance, Allscripts, Hill-Rom, Novarad and others leading the way, with support from our thousands of technology partners. Here are a few examples:
- Walgreens Boots Alliance: Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership aimed at transforming health care delivery. Our companies will combine the power of Microsoft’s cloud and AI technologies, health care investments, and retail solutions with WBA’s customer reach, convenient locations, outpatient health care services, and industry expertise with the goal of making health care delivery more personal, affordable and accessible for people around the world.
- Veradigm: Veradigm, an Allscripts company, and Microsoft announced a collaboration focused on implementing an innovative, integrated model for clinical research, aiming to enhance clinical research design, conduct studies more efficiently and improve the research provider and participant experience.
- Hill-Rom: Hill-Rom and Microsoft announced a collaboration to bring advanced, actionable point-of-care data and solutions to caregivers and healthcare provider organizations. Our collaboration will combine Hill-Rom’s deep clinical knowledge and streaming operational data from medical devices with Microsoft’s cloud, IoT and AI technologies to help drive enhanced patient outcomes.
- Novarad: Novarad, a healthcare enterprise imaging company, recently obtained 510(k) clearance from the FDA for the OpenSight Augmented Reality System for Microsoft HoloLens. OpenSight received pre-operative clearance for augmented reality usage in surgical planning, giving physicians access to a new solution that can improve surgical procedures by enhancing accuracy and shortening operative times.
- ThoughtWire: ThoughtWire, is helping save lives with its EarlyWarning application, designed to preempt and prevent patients from suffering cardiac arrest in hospitals. This solution has already reduced code blue calls, which signals a risk of cardiac arrest, by 61 percent at Hamilton Health Sciences, a medical group of seven hospitals and a cancer center. ThoughtWire will deliver the EarlyWarning app, running on Microsoft Azure, to health systems at scale.
- Innovaccer: Innovaccer is a healthcare data activation platform company working towards solving data interoperability challenges in healthcare and helping health systems enhance their clinical and financial outcomes with a data-first approach. Innovaccer is a portfolio company of M12, Microsoft’s venture fund.
The future is bright – a more connected future to deliver better experiences, insights and care. We are looking forward to meeting many of you next week at HIMSS19 and sharing more about what we are working on. Please be sure to stop by our booth No. 2500 to see our solutions in action, and follow our HIMSS19 story on @Health_IT to learn more.