Microsoft Expands Healthcare Cloud Strategy Across Data With New Solutions

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Microsoft Corp. announced advancements in cloud technologies for healthcare and life sciences with the general availability of Azure Health Data Services and updates to Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

 

Combined with the recent close of its acquisition of Nuance Communications, Microsoft is uniquely positioned to amplify an organization’s ability to help others by leveraging trusted AI to address the biggest challenges transforming the future of healthcare for all.

 

The health industry has undergone a rapid digital transformation over the past two years. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare launched in September 2020 to address the health industry’s challenges — from reducing clinician burnout, delivering more personalized experiences for patients, and enabling health data interoperability.

 

With today’s announcements, Microsoft continues to deliver on its healthcare strategy with solutions that help enhance patient engagement and clinician experiences, empower health team collaboration, and improve clinical and operational insights. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare threads together innovative solutions from across the company to deliver a powerful, integrated, comprehensive cloud offering.

 

“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: Interoperability to drive better patient outcomes and clinical advances

The health industry generates an overwhelming amount of data, much of which is unstructured and inaccessible. Oftentimes this data sits in silos and is not used to its full potential. Within that data lies the power to deliver better patient care and outcomes, further clinical advances, and accelerate research breakthroughs.

 

The key to unlocking the data is interoperability across the entire health ecosystem. Microsoft took the first step to address health data interoperability with Azure API for FHIR in 2019. Today the company revealed the next evolution of that journey — announcing general availability of Azure Health Data Services.

 

Azure Health Data Services is purpose-built for protected health information (PHI) and brings together diverse datasets — like clinical, imaging and streaming data from medical devices — in the cloud using global interoperability standards of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) and Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine (DICOM).

 

Azure Health Data Services is the only generally available solution of its kind to ingest, manage and transform a combination of clinical, imaging and medtech data. While other solutions exist for clinical and imaging data, Azure Health Data Services provides the most holistic view of the patient by unifying all three types of health data.

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With Azure Health Data Services, metadata from medical images and medical devices can be read alongside clinical information, yielding more powerful results when a provider or researcher searches and queries patient information. The service also features a suite of tools that supports the de-identification and connection of data for compute, analytics and more — in a way that enables a meaningful impact on medicine and patient care. Azure Health Data Services includes the following features:

 

  • 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, 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.”

 

The Azure Health Data Services are part of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, which is built for enterprise scale with Azure’s foundation of trust and security, providing all the benefits of Microsoft’s global footprint and commitment to open interoperability standards. Azure Health Data Services supports an organization’s HIPAA compliance, and data is managed according to applicable regulations, with certifications for ISO, HITRUST, FedRAMP and SOC.

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare: Enhancing patient experiences and health team collaboration

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare provides trusted and integrated capabilities that make it easier for organizations to create personalized patient experiences, give health teams connected collaboration tools, and adopt data standards important to healthcare.