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Innovations from Ignite 2020 – Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

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The well renowned annual congregation of technology leaders that is Microsoft Ignite, unsurprisingly became an all-digital event this year – but this did not stop the innovative announcements from rolling out.

The list of pioneering updates and announcements that took place last month, was extensive. To see the full list, you can visit the Microsoft Ignite Book of News, or you can even watch all content on demand from Microsoft’s content collection here (a bonus of the event taking place virtually this year!).

Whilst major advances were announced for Microsoft 365, Azure, Security and Business Applications, this year our Microsoft Experts were particularly interested in the feature announcements for the first-ever industry-specific Cloud solution – Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. Their focus was likely not only because of the drastic advancements, now available within the healthcare sector, but also because it is inherently relevant to current global events.

Lynne Dunbrack, Group VP for IDC Public Sector shared her thoughts on why now is the perfect time to introduce healthcare specific cloud technologies – “At this time in history, it’s so important to have a cloud environment that endeavours to improve patient care, improve experiences for patients and the healthcare providers, and better engage patients all the way around.”

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare is Microsoft’s first industry-specific cloud to be made generally available, now rolling out across the globe. The cloud computing platform demonstrates the software giant’s commitment to bringing innovative technology to help industries adapt to the current challenges of today’s modern world.

The ultimate goal is to utilise Microsoft Azure, Microsoft 365, Microsoft Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Power Platform to create an integrated solution that is tailored to the specific requirements of the healthcare industry, in order to result in an enhanced, better-connected experience for both the care teams and their patients.

Enhanced patient experience

Now more than ever, the demand for virtual healthcare solutions has increased significantly. As many individuals are fast becoming reluctant to leave the home, the healthcare industry has been required to drastically advance their technologies in order to keep up with the demands of an increasingly digital environment. That’s where Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare comes in – a solution that not only enables digital health care solutions through self-service portals and applications, but also prioritises the patient experience from beginning to end. The capabilities introduced that allow this streamlined experience are –

  • Patient 360 based on HL7 FHIR. Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) is the industry-leading system for exchanging and sharing health data. The Azure FHIR service allows health providers to access the entire medical history of the patient, including current conditions and appointments. This information is taken from the EMR data repository and results in a seamless experience for both patients and physicians when accessing data.
  • Personalised Programmes and Flexible Access. Using real-time data, patients can have personalised programmes built for them to create tailored care experiences. In addition, patients are enabled to self-schedule appointments, and have online interactions with care agents or health-bots through the digital patient portal to build experiences suited to their schedule.
  • Care Management. Care teams can develop actionable insights across care programmes to result in the specific needs of the individual patient being known and recognised, whilst ensuring that the most suitable health care worker is assigned to the appropriate patient to ensure maximum benefit.

Coordinated Care

It’s no secret that Microsoft Teams is the ultimate productivity tool, designed to enable all-inclusive collaboration between every team member. Teams is continuing to expand it’s capabilities to meet the unique requirements of healthcare and to provide coordinated team collaboration. These new capabilities include –

  • Teams Templates. This accelerates collaboration within Teams through tailoring channels, tabs, apps and settings to their specific industry.
  • EHR Connector. This solution simplifies virtual appointments as it enables patients and clinicians to launch digital visits with another provider in Teams, straight from the Electronic Health Record (EHR) system. This results in the clinician being able to focus their attention on the patient, rather than spending their time navigating fragmented systems.
  • Mobile WebRTC. Patients don’t even need to download an app to benefit from this streamlined mobile experience – Appointment confirmations, reminders and links can now be sent as a text straight to the patients mobile.
  • Lists in Teams. The smart tracking system in this solution empowers the care team with increased efficiency as they can now collaborate on their patients. Through these collaborative workflows, clinicians can schedule, manage and conduct virtual visits and securely share and deliver information with more efficiency.
  • The Nuance DAX solution. This innovation by Microsoft and Nuance Communications Inc is essentially the integration of the Nuance Dragon Ambient experience with Microsoft Teams, and has resulted in real-time physician and patient conversations. Patient data is also integrated with information from the EHR to auto-fill a highly precise clinical note for the physicians to view in the patient’s medical record.

Generated Insights

The ability to connect data from existing sources to generate insights, not only results in a comprehensive patient view, but additionally a more efficient, and protected way to access healthcare information data. Clinical insights are therefore improved through –

  • Azure IoT Connector for FHIR. This allows providers to rapidly connect different data sources in a simplified data management solution which connects all systems using FHIR, resulting in integrated and protected health data.
  • Medical Imaging Server for DICOM. This new Open Source Software (OSS) enables developers to easily consume medical imaging files, whilst integrating imaging metadata with clinical data in a FHIR format. Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM) is usually managed independently of clinical data, yet Microsoft are bridging this gap by uniting DICOM with FHIR in the cloud to increase efficiency.

Key Takeaways

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare connects patient and physician experiences across the cloud. By having an industry-specific cloud platform, workflow efficiency is improved, collaboration is streamlined, and data is connected and protected across various sources.

This digital advancement for the healthcare industry is particularly critical at present time as the current global crisis has placed immense pressure onto the sector. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare has been specifically designed to address the sudden need for digital healthcare – providing organisations with the tools needed to easily adapt to today’s challenges.

Our team of Microsoft Gold experts are fully equipped to aid with transition to the cloud – Get in touch here for more information.

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