Microsoft and partners combine the cloud, AI, research and industry expertise to focus on transforming health care

Microsoft announces new health-focused initiatives and solutions, and emerging strategic research partnership with UPMC

The goal is noble: Empower people to lead healthier lives. And yet, few industries in the world face more complex problems than health care. Disparate and disconnected information systems, the uncertainties within regulatory environments around the world and the inevitable disruptions in core business models all pose perplexing and interlocking challenges.

As we look at some of the challenges in health care, a natural question we ask ourselves is, How can Microsoft bring its capabilities to bear to solve some of these problems?

It’s a big challenge. But we believe technology – specifically the cloud, AI and collaboration and business optimization tools – will be central to health care transformation.

Making a difference in health care will require all that Microsoft can bring, fused with the industry expertise and experience from our partners: leading health care organizations and the companies that serve them.

We are incredibly energized about the opportunities to make a difference in health care. We’ve been listening carefully to our customers and partners within the health care sector, and we’ve heard their message: Let’s work together, innovate together and create solutions that can empower people to lead healthier lives.

Today, we are expanding our commitment to building a healthier future with new initiatives and solutions, making it easier for health industry partners and organizations to use intelligent technology to improve the lives of people around the world.

Healthcare NExT: Fusing research, AI and industry expertise through partners

Healthcare NExT, a new initiative to dramatically transform health care, will deeply integrate greenfield research and health technology product development, as well as establish a new model at Microsoft for strategic health industry partnerships. Through these collaborations between health care partners and Microsoft’s AI and Research organization, our goal is to enable a new wave of innovation and impact using Microsoft’s deep AI expertise and global-scale cloud.

This initiative includes investments in resources for our partners to capture new opportunities to apply AI to healthcare, such as the Microsoft AI in Health Partner Alliance, an expanding group of partners focused on advancing health technology. Alliance members will receive unique training and access to Microsoft technologies, engineering expertise and data sets.

Transforming patient and clinician empowerment with UPMC

The first planned strategic research partnership for Microsoft’s Healthcare NExT initiative is with UPMC (University of Pittsburgh Medical Center), one of the largest integrated health care delivery networks in the United States. The $13 billion Pittsburgh-based system, comprising more than 25 hospitals, a 3 million-member health plan and 3,600 physicians, will be a core partner in our efforts to improve health care delivery through a series of projects, beginning with a focus on transforming clinician empowerment and productivity. With UPMC’s long track record of clinical and commercial innovation and Microsoft’s expertise in advanced AI capabilities, the two organizations plan to work together to bring innovative new solutions to market, beginning with implementation at UPMC.

“Despite UPMC’s efforts to stay on the leading edge of technology, 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 empowering clinicians by reducing the burden of electronic paperwork and allowing the doctor to focus on the sacred doctor-patient relationship,” said Steven D. Shapiro, M.D., chief medical and scientific officer of UMPC and president of UPMC’s Health Services division.

Additional collaborations from Healthcare NExT include partners applying the cloud, AI and research to some of the biggest problems in health care:

  • HealthVault Insights is a new research-based project designed to allow partners to generate new insights about patient health, drive adherence to care plans and encourage patient engagement powered by the latest scientific advances in machine learning. Tribridge and System C & Graphnet Care Alliance are building on HealthVault Insights to create innovative solutions for patient adherence to provider care plans.
  • Microsoft Genomics is making the sample-to-answer process fast and easy through an Azure-powered genome analysis pipeline and an orchestrated ecosystem of innovative partners including BC Platforms and DNAnexus.
  • Microsoft’s AI health chatbot technology is also a research-based project that will enable partners to build AI-powered conversational health care tools. MDLIVE intends to use our health bot technology to help patients self-triage inquiries before they interact with a doctor via video. Premera Blue Cross, the largest health plan in the Pacific Northwest, plans to use our health bot technology to transform how members can look up information about their health benefits. Health Navigator’s symptom checker brings best practices to other customers and partners.
  • Project InnerEye is a research-based, AI-powered software tool for radiotherapy planning. The goal of the project is to allow dosimetrists and radiation oncologists to achieve 3D contouring of patients’ planning scans in minutes rather than hours. The assistive AI technology gives experts full control of the output accuracy while enjoying high levels of consistency and potential cost savings.

Enabling 21st-century house calls powered by the Microsoft cloud

Microsoft Office 365 Virtual Health Templates provide new functionality to connect people and providers through voice, video and messaging in any interface or application, powered by Skype for Business. The open source templates make it easy for industry partners, developers and enterprises to build solutions to provide care wherever patients may be.

RingMD, Careflow, Cambio and GE Healthcare have built from Office 365 Virtual Health Templates compelling and easy to use experiences.

Addressing health care business optimization with SaaS apps

New services from our partner ecosystem, powered by the Microsoft cloud, help address business process challenges outside of the clinic. Available today is CGI ProperPay for claims analytics. ProperPay provides predictive analytics, rules management and best practices for reducing health care claims fraud, waste and abuse, a $450 billion-plus problem driving up health care costs around the globe. CGI ProperPay for claims analytics joins a growing number of business and engagement applications in the Microsoft AppSource catalog like Tribridge’s Health360 Care Coordination.

Looking to the future

With any significant advance in technology it’s important to consider the unintended consequences, as well as the benefits. At Microsoft, we’re grounding our efforts in a set of core design principles that focus on the human benefit of AI, transparency and accountability. We believe that ethics and design go hand in hand.

Further, we understand that security, privacy, and compliance remain a top priority for health organizations. Microsoft Chief Information Security Officer for Health Hector Rodriguez recently reinforced our commitment to customers highlighting key investments across these core principles of trust in technology.

At the intersection of health, technology and people lies great promise. Our mission is to empower every person and organization to achieve more, and we’re excited to meet many of you next week at HIMSS17 and continue our close partnership in health care to achieve more together. If you’re at HIMSS17 next week in Orlando, Florida, be sure to stop by our booth No. 2509 to see our solutions in action. Follow our HIMSS17 story on @Health_IT to learn more.