Microsoft Unveils New Healthcare Cloud Solutions and Capabilities

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With the public release of Azure Health Data Services and improvements to Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, Microsoft says it has released breakthroughs in cloud technologies for healthcare and life sciences. Microsoft would be uniquely positioned to enhance an organization’s potential to serve others by deploying trusted AI to address the toughest issues impacting the future of healthcare for all, thanks to the recent closing of its acquisition of Nuance Communications.

Microsoft’s healthcare strategy continues to bear fruit with technologies that increase patient engagement and clinician experiences, enable health team communication, and improve clinical and operational insights. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare brings together cutting-edge solutions from throughout the organization to give a powerful, integrated, and all-encompassing healthcare cloud solution.

“The past two years have starkly revealed the pressing challenges facing healthcare and life sciences across the globe,” said Tom McGuinness, corporate vice president, Global Healthcare & Life Sciences, Microsoft. “At a time when healthcare systems are strained to capacity and researchers are racing against the clock, we believe that data and AI hold the keys to a new world of health and discovery for patients, clinicians, researchers and administrators. Microsoft is bringing together the solutions the industry needs in a cohesive way.”

Azure Health Data Services

Photo Tom McGuinness, corporate vice president, Global Healthcare & Life Sciences, Microsoft
“At a time when healthcare systems are strained to capacity and researchers are racing against the clock, we believe that data and AI hold the keys to a new world of health and discovery for patients, clinicians, researchers and administrators,” said Tom McGuinness, corporate vice president, Global Healthcare & Life Sciences, Microsoft.

The health-care business creates a massive quantity of data, most of which is unstructured and difficult to retrieve. This information is frequently stored in silos and is rarely utilized to its full potential. That data has the potential to improve patient care and outcomes, boost clinical research, and speed up scientific discoveries. Interoperability throughout the whole health ecosystem is the key to accessing the data. In 2019, Microsoft took a first move toward addressing health data interoperability by releasing the Azure API for FHIR. The next step in that journey has now been announced with the general release of Azure Health Data Services.

Azure Health Data Services is designed specifically for protected health information (PHI) and brings together a variety of datasets in the cloud, including clinical, imaging, and streaming data from medical devices, using global interoperability standards such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine (DICOM).

Azure Health Data Services is a widely accessible solution for ingesting, managing, and transforming clinical, imaging, and medtech data. While there are various solutions for clinical and imaging data, Azure Health Data Services unifies all three forms of health data to deliver the most comprehensive view of the patient.

When a practitioner or researcher searches and queries patient information, Azure Health Data Services can read metadata from medical imaging and medical devices alongside clinical information, delivering more powerful results. The service also includes a set of tools for de-identification and data connectivity for computing, analytics, and other purposes, allowing for a significant influence on medicine and patient care.

The following functionalities are included in Azure Health Data Services:

  • Support for secure PHI exchange in the cloud for structured, unstructured, imaging and medtech data using global interoperability standards like FHIR and DICOM
  • A suite of healthcare APIs that securely brings health data to the cloud and persists it within a compliance boundary in Azure
  • The ability to enable management, de-identification, event notification and transformation of data for downstream use
  • Connection of PHI data to powerful technology in the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare ecosystem, such as Synapse for deep analytics and AI development, Power BI for data visualization, or Microsoft Teams and Dynamics 365 for care team collaboration and improving patient engagement

“There are several areas where cloud technology like Azure Health Data Services can help enhance healthcare. I believe it will play a critical role between various systems, allowing us to take data from health records and other data sources and combine it together in a centralized place where it can be used to inform and deliver patient-centric care,” said Matthew Kull, Chief Information Officer (CIO) at Cleveland Clinic. “It also can enable real-time complex deep learning – by normalizing data from different systems in a way that allows complex algorithmic analyses to occur via AI or ML – and integrate research-based insights back into a clinical workflow.”

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare

The Azure Health Data Services are part of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, which is designed for corporate scale and built on Azure’s trust and security basis, giving you access to all of Microsoft’s worldwide presence and adherence to open interoperability standards. HIPAA compliance is supported by Azure Health Data Services, and data is maintained in accordance with applicable rules, including ISO, HITRUST, FedRAMP, and SOC certifications.

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare provides companies with integrated capabilities that would make it simpler for them to build tailored patient experiences, provide linked communication tools for health teams, and embrace essential data standards.

Microsoft has announced a number of improvements and new capabilities for Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. The enhancements are intended to transform the healthcare journey by utilizing artificial intelligence (AI) to provide full visibility into data, reduce provider administrative burden, boost frontline care team productivity, increase workflow automation that can improve care quality, reduce clinician burnout, and deliver better care faster and at a lower cost.

New features that would enhance patient and clinician experiences include:

  • New features in Microsoft Teams for virtual appointments – Patients will be able to request on-demand appointments with their clinicians, as well as new analytics tools that will provide providers with vital information regarding virtual appointment success. Teams now contains a new device tester that allows patients to test their hardware settings prior to their virtual appointment, letting the patient and provider to concentrate on the consultation rather than dealing with technical difficulties. Learn more about Teams’ extra features.
  • Enhanced clinical workflow integrations in Teams – including the public availability of the Cerner-validated Microsoft Teams EHR connection, which allows physicians to schedule virtual appointments and consult with other doctors in Teams straight from their health record system. Additionally, the Teladoc app for Teams is now broadly available, bringing the Teladoc Health Solo platform straight into Teams and making patient interaction across the care continuum easier for healthcare staff.
  • Enhancements to Azure Health Bot templates – Using virtual agents, companies may easily create scenarios for self-reporting quality-of-life assessments and chronic disease treatment.
  • Updates to the Patient View – This gives users access to demographic and clinical data about your patients. This release adds Power Apps connectivity, allowing providers to easily change the interface for their specific care circumstances.
  • A preview of the new Patient Insights capability – It would enable care managers, patient advocates, outreach experts, and population health analysts to communicate and record relevant patient insights in a timely and effective manner. Patient insights analytics may be able to assist enterprises in improving clinical operations and care management experiences.

The Acquisition of Nuance Communications

Text Analytics for health structure to FHIR, for example, is a new tool in Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare that improves clinical and operational insights. Healthcare organizations may use text analytics to analyze and extract insights from unstructured medical data. This new tool converts unstructured clinical records into FHIR resource bundles, allowing users to gain faster insights and improve interoperability.

Microsoft recently completed the acquisition of Nuance Communications, a pioneer in conversational AI and ambient technologies. Microsoft and Nuance wouldbe ideally positioned to amplify an organization’s potential to serve others by utilizing trusted AI to solve the healthcare industry’s most pressing requirements as a single entity.

Customers will have access to the largest and deepest range of advanced AI solutions available, thanks to the “size, security, and power” of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and Azure Health Data Services’ cloud foundation for managing data, combined with Nuance’s deep domain experience.