Software giant Microsoft has announced it is seeking to further its healthcare initiatives through the company’s expertise in AI, cloud services software development.
Together with several industry partners, the company will test and deploy new technologies that better connect healthcare bodies, research facilities and other stakeholders with the overall aim of improving patient outcomes.
A new initiative Microsoft calls Healthcare NExT has been developed to integrate greenfield research into human health issues and health technology product development. The company has stated the initiative aims to create a new wave of innovation in healthcare, as well as build a new model within Microsoft for establishing strategic health industry partnerships. Microsoft has said Healthcare NExT will include an investment in training and engineering resources for its industry partners so they can better deploy the power of artificial intelligence and global-scale cloud technologies.
The Healthcare NExT programme is to first be implemented at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre (UPMC), a 25-hospital network with 3,600 physicians in the eastern United States. Chief medical and scientific officer at UPMC Steven D. Shapiro commented on the difficulty existing healthcare technologies can create for staff. He said:
“Too often our clinicians and patients feel as though they’re serving the technology rather than the other way around. With Microsoft we have a shared vision of... reducing the burden of electronic paperwork and allowing the doctor to focus on the doctor-partner relationship.”
Microsoft is also rolling out several other projects under the Healthcare NExT umbrella. HealthVault Insights is a machine learning tool to encourage patient engagement with their care plans, while an ever-improving online chatbot tool will help patients self-triage inquiries before they consult with a doctor via Skype. Other cloud and AI-driven technologies from the company aim to improve genome analysis and planning for radiotherapy treatments.
Of note for doctors using Office 365 is the addition of Virtual Health Templates with new functionalities for connecting providers with patients through video, voice and messaging in any application or interface. The company allows Office 365 templates to be open sourced so they can be tailored to an institution’s needs.
The Healthcare NExT announcement also included a new Software as a Service tool for health insurance companies to improve the handling of claims. Microsoft has made a cloud-based solution called CGI Properpay available, which provides predictive analytics and features to reduce claims fraud, waste and abuse. The company cited the impact improper claims are having in driving up health care costs, saying it is a ‘£341 billion problem’.
Microsoft noted privacy and compliance are important in healthcare and it seeks to avoid unintended consequences from allowing machines to facilitate human health. To that end, the company has reinforced its views regarding its core design principles and accountability when it comes to the human benefits of AI.
Microsoft’s technology not only benefits healthcare providers. For the latest on how the latest developments can be used to improve your business, particularly if you want to harness the potential of cloud computing, contact us at WM Reply.