Dr. David Rhew named chief medical officer and vice president of Healthcare

Dr David Rhew sitting in a gardenDr David Rhew sitting in a gardenThe healthcare industry is in the middle of an exciting transformation as the cloud, AI, and technology innovations unlock new efficiencies in healthcare delivery and discover new breakthroughs in scientific exploration. For Microsoft to enable our customers and partners during this transformation, it’s important that we continue to recruit experts in this field who truly understand the challenges of healthcare delivery and operations across the spectrum of the industry’s physical and digital realms.

I’m pleased to share that David Rhew, M.D., has joined our Worldwide Commercial Business (WCB) Healthcare leadership team as the Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Healthcare.

David joins us from Samsung, where he spent six years leading the company’s healthcare efforts as Chief Medical Officer and Vice President for Enterprise Healthcare. He was recently named one of Modern Healthcare’s 50 Most Influential Clinical Executive Leaders, and also serves as an adjunct professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine.

In addition, David is a computer scientist who holds six U.S. patents related to clinical decision support systems and the interoperability and integration of data in electronic health records (EHRs). An internationally recognized digital health thought leader, David has been a driving force behind the development, validation, and deployment of digital health solutions recognized by global organizations such as the Consumer Technology Association and the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for Culture as being some of the most innovative and impactful in the industry.

David will provide executive-level support, engaging in business opportunities with our customers and partners. In addition, David will represent the company within the marketplace through industry events and engagements. With his cross-discipline expertise and his keen ability to engage, listen, and collaborate, David’s work with our customer and partners will ensure our commercial healthcare business delivers the right technologies and capabilities to reimagine the industry.

“Data are quickly becoming the new currency in healthcare. Organizations that create value through secure storage, clinical interpretation, and the seamless exchange of data between patients and providers are emerging as the new leaders. Microsoft is positioned to lead in this capacity. I am honored to be a part of the team that builds and grows this business.”  – David Rhew, Chief Medical Officer, Microsoft Worldwide Commercial Business

At Microsoft, we’re continuing to learn and grow every day from the extensive set of partnerships that we have had in healthcare: more than 168,000 healthcare organizations in 140 countries. I am excited to have David join our Microsoft family to help our customers and partners realize their vision!

Read more about Microsoft’s work with Healthcare organizations from our e-book “Personalizing Healthcare: Engaging Patients in a Digital Age.”


Microsoft and cloud counterparts unite on frictionless exchange of health data, boosting patient care

This post was co-authored by Heather Jordan Cartwright, General Manager, Microsoft Healthcare

Cloud computing is rapidly becoming a bigger and more central part of the infrastructure of healthcare. We see this as a historic shift that motivates us to think hard about how to ensure that, in this cloud-based future, interoperable health data is available as needed and without friction.

Microsoft continues to build health data interoperability into the core of the Azure cloud, empowering developers and partners to easily build data-rich health apps with the Azure API for FHIR®. We are also actively contributing to healthcare community with open source software like the FHIR Server for Azure, bringing together developers on collaborative solutions that move the industry forward.

We take interoperability seriously. At last summer’s CMS Blue Button Developer Conference, we made a public commitment to promote the frictionless exchange of health data with our counterparts at AWS, Google, IBM, Salesforce and Oracle. That commitment remains strong.

Today, at the same conference of health IT community leaders, we are sharing a joint announcement that showcases how we have moved from principles and commitment to actions. Our activities over the past year include open-source software releases, development of new standards and implementation guides, and deployment of services that support U.S. federal interoperability mandates.

Here’s the full text of our joint announcement:

As healthcare evolves across the globe, so does our ability to improve the health and wellness of communities. Patients, providers, and health plans are striving for more value-based care, more engaging user experiences, and broader application of machine learning to assist clinicians in diagnosis and patient care.

Too often, however, patient data are inconsistently formatted, incomplete, unavailable, or missing – which can limit access to the best possible care. Equipping patients and caregivers with information and insights derived from raw data has the potential to yield significantly better outcomes. But without a robust network of clinical information, even the best people and technology may not reach their potential.

Interoperability requires the ability to share clinical information across systems, networks, and care providers. Barriers to data interoperability sit at the core of many process problems. We believe that better interoperability will unlock improvements in individual and population-level care coordination, delivery, and management. As such, we support efforts from ONC and CMS to champion greater interoperability and patient access.

This year’s proposed rules focus on the use of HL7® FHIR® (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) as an open standard for electronically exchanging healthcare information. FHIR builds on concepts and best-practices from other standards to define a comprehensive, secure, and semantically-extensible specification for interoperability. The FHIR community features multidisciplinary collaboration and public channels where developers interact and contribute.

We’ve been excited to use and contribute to many FHIR-focused, multi-language tools that work to solve real-world implementation challenges. We are especially proud to highlight a set of open-source tools including: Google’s FHIR protocol buffers and Apigee Health APIx, Microsoft’s FHIR Server for Azure, Cerner’s FHIR integration for Apache Spark, a serverless reference architecture for FHIR APIs on AWS, Salesforce/Mulesoft’s Catalyst Accelerator for Healthcare templates, and IBM’s Apache Spark service.

Beyond the production of new tools, we have also proudly participated in developing new specifications including the Bulk Data $export operation (and recent work on an $import operation), Subscriptions, and analytical SQL projections. All of these capabilities demonstrate the strength and adaptability of the FHIR specification. Moreover, through connectathons, community events, and developer conferences, our engineering teams are committed to the continued improvement of the FHIR ecosystem. Our engineering organizations have previously supported the maturation of standards in other fields and we believe FHIR version R4 — a normative release — provides an essential and appropriate target for ongoing investments in interoperability.

We have seen the early promise of standards-based APIs from market leading Health IT systems, and are excited about a future where such capabilities are universal. Together, we operate some of the largest technical infrastructure across the globe serving many healthcare and non-healthcare systems alike. Through that experience, we recognize the scale and complexity of the task at hand. We believe that the techniques required to meet the objectives of ONC and CMS are available today and can be delivered cost-effectively with well-engineered systems.

As a technology community, we believe that a forward-thinking API strategy as outlined in the proposed rules will advance the ability for all organizations to build and deploy novel applications to the benefit of patients, care providers, and administrators alike. ONC and CMS’s continued leadership, thoughtful rules, and embrace of open standards help move us decisively in that direction.

Amazon, Google, IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and Salesforce

The positive collaboration on open FHIR standards and the urgency for data interoperability have strengthened our commitment to an open-source-first approach in healthcare technology. We continue to incorporate feedback from the community to develop new features, and are actively identifying new places where open source software can help accelerate interoperability.

Support from the ONC and CMS in 2019 to adopt FHIR APIs as a foundation for clinical data interoperability will have a profound and positive effect on the industry. Looking forward, the application of FHIR to healthcare financial data including claims, explanation of benefit, insurance coverage, and network participation will continue to accelerate interoperability at scale and open new pathways for machine learning.

While it’s still early, we’ve seen our partners leveraging FHIR to better coordinate care, to develop innovative global health tracking systems for super-bacteria, and to proactively prevent the need for patients undergoing chemotherapy to be admitted to the emergency room. FHIR is providing a foundational platform on which our partners can drive rapid innovation, and it inspires us to work even harder to deliver technology that makes interoperable data a reality.

We’re just beginning to see what is possible in this new world of frictionless health data exchange, and we’d love for you to join us. If you want to participate, comment or learn more about FHIR, you can reach our FHIR Community chat here.


How Microsoft 365 can help health providers adapt in an era of patient data protection and sharing

For years, patient data management meant one thing—secure the data. Now, healthcare leaders must protect and openly share the data with patients and with other healthcare organizations to support quality of care, patient safety, and cost reduction. As data flows more freely, following the patient, there’s less risk of redundant testing that increases cost and waste. Legacy infrastructure and cybersecurity concerns stand on the critical path to greater interoperability and patient record portability. Learn how Microsoft 365 can help.

Impact of regulatory changes and market forces

Regulatory changes are a big driver for this shift. Through regulations like the 21st Century Cures Act in the United States, healthcare organizations are required to improve their capabilities to protect and share patient data. The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the European Union expands the rights of data subjects over their data. Failing to share patient data in an effective, timely, and secure manner can result in significant penalties for providers and for healthcare payors.

Market forces are another driver of this shift as consumers’ expectations of omni-channel service and access spill over to healthcare. This augurs well for making the patient more central to data flows.

There are unintended consequences, however. The increasing need to openly share data creates new opportunities for hackers to explore, and new risks for health organizations to manage.

It’s more important than ever to have a data governance and proactive cybersecurity strategy that enables free data flow with an optimal security posture. In fact, government regulators will penalize healthcare organizations for non-compliance—and so will the marketplace.

How Microsoft 365 can prepare your organization for the journey ahead

Modernizing legacy systems and processes is a daunting, expensive task. Navigating a digitized but siloed information system is costly, impedes clinician workflow, and complicates patient safety goals.

To this end, Microsoft Teams enables the integration of electronic health record information and other health data, allowing care teams to communicate and collaborate about patient care in real-time. Leading interoperability partners continue to build the ability to integrate electronic health records into Teams through a FHIR interface. With Teams, clinical workers can securely access patient information, chat with other team members, and even have modern meeting experiences, all without having to switch between apps.

Incomplete data and documentation are among the biggest sources of provider and patient dissatisfaction. Clinicians value the ability to communicate with each other securely and swiftly to deliver the best informed care at point of care.

Teams now offers new secure messaging capabilities, including priority notifications and message delegation, as well as a smart camera with image annotation and secure sharing, so images stay in Teams and aren’t stored to the clinician’s device image gallery.

Image of phone screens showing priority notifications and message delegation.

What about cybersecurity and patient data? As legacy infrastructure gives way to more seamless data flow, it’s important to protect against a favorite tactic of cyber criminals—phishing.

Phishing emails—weaponized emails that appear to come from a reputable source or person—are increasingly difficult to detect. As regulatory pressure mounts within healthcare organizations to not “block” access to data, the risk of falling for such phishing attacks is expected to increase. To help mitigate this trend, Office 365 Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) has a cloud-based email filtering service with sophisticated anti-phishing capabilities.

For example, Office 365 ATP provides real-time detonation capabilities to find and block unknown threats, including malicious links and attachments. Links in email are continuously evaluated for user safety. Similarly, any attachments in email are tested for malware and unsafe attachments are removed.

Image of a message appearing on a tablet screen showing a website that has been classified as malicious.

For data to flow freely, it’s important to apply the right governance and protection to sensitive data. And that is premised on appropriate data classification. Microsoft 365 helps organizations find and classify sensitive data across a variety of locations, including devices, apps, and cloud services with Microsoft Information Protection. Administrators need to know that sensitive data is accessed by authorized personnel only. Microsoft 365, through Azure Active Directory (Azure AD), enables capabilities like Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and conditional access policies to minimize the risk of unauthorized access to sensitive patient information.

For example, if a user or device sign-in is tagged as high-risk, Azure AD can automatically enforce conditional access policies that can limit or block access or require the user to re-authenticate via MFA. Benefitting from the integrated signals of the Microsoft Intelligent Security Graph, Microsoft 365 solutions look holistically at the user sign-in behavior over time to assess risk and investigate anomalies where needed.

When faced with the prospect of internal leaks, Supervision in Microsoft 365 can help organizations monitor employees’ communications channels to manage compliance and reduce reputational risk from policy violations. As patient data is shared, tracking its flow is essential. Audit log and alerts in Microsoft 365 includes several auditing and reporting features that customers can use to track certain activity such as changes made to documents and other items.

Finally, as you conform with data governance regulatory obligations and audits, Microsoft 365 can assist you in responding to regulators. Advanced eDiscovery and Data Subject Requests (DSRs) capabilities offer the agility and efficiency you need when going through an audit, helping you find relevant patient data or respond to patient information requests.

Using the retention policies of Advanced Data Governance, you can retain core business records in unalterable, compliant formats. With records management capabilities, your core business records can be properly declared and stored with full audit visibility to meet regulatory obligations.

Learn more

Healthcare leaders must adapt quickly to market and regulatory expectations regarding data flows. Clinical and operations leaders depend on data flowing freely to make data-driven business and clinical decisions, to understand patterns in patient care and to constantly improve patient safety, quality of care, and cost management.

Microsoft 365 helps improve workflows through the integration power of Teams, moving the right data to the right place at the right time. Microsoft 365 also helps your security and compliance posture through advanced capabilities that help you manage and protect identity, data, and devices.

Microsoft 365 is the right cloud platform for you in this new era of patient data protection—and data sharing. Check out the Microsoft 365 for health page to learn more about how Microsoft 365 and Teams can empower your healthcare professionals in a modern workplace.


How Patient.Info website uses Azure to keep its finger on the pulse of health in the UK

One of the biggest impacts of technology on healthcare has been the ability to turn your home into a basic GP surgery. Smartwatches can measure your heart rate, blood pressure and how many calories you’ve burnt; digital assistants can remind you to exercise; gadgets will help you monitor your asthma and cope with back pain; you can videochat with your doctor via your laptop. You can even buy smart shorts that log electrical activity in your muscles.

The gradual shift from calling a GP surgery to make an appointment and travelling there, to monitoring and managing conditions as part of your regular day – often online – is being welcomed at both ends of the phone line.

As one of the most popular medical websites in the UK, Patient.Info is at the forefront of this revolution. More than 100 million people logged on to the site in 2018 to read articles about healthcare, check symptoms and learn to live a healthier life.

Jason Keane, Chief Executive, says Patient.Info’s success and popularity is a result of the clear, accurate and reliable clinical information people find on the site, which has all been written by healthcare professionals.

“The objective is to empower people to make informed choices,” he says. “That’s about understanding the patient’s needs and offering them great content so they can manage their own care. It’s getting patients to the services they need. Patient.Info plays a critical role in not only being able to give people the ability to make informed choices, because the content is written and peer reviewed by GPs, but it makes the entire experience very safe and secure in one tool.”

<img width="4032" height="3024" src="" class="animate-viewport c-image" alt="Sarah Jarvis and Jason Keane" srcset=" 4032w, 300w, 768w, 1600w" sizes="(max-width: 4032px) 100vw, 4032px" data-attachment-id="75200" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="4032,3024" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="sarahJason" data-image-description="

Sarah Jarvis and Jason Keane

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Sarah Jarvis and Jason Keane

A high level of safety and security is important when people are sharing personal information online, so Keane and Clinical Director Sarah Jarvis MBE took no chances and moved Patient.Info onto Azure, Microsoft’s cloud platform. They also use Power BI to quickly and easily understand all the information held in their Data Lake.

Moving to Azure also allows the website to cope with sudden surges in demand – during winter when flu is more prevalent, for example – as Azure will automatically free up more server space when needed.

“Our users need to have complete confidence in what we’re doing,” Keane adds. “We work with Microsoft because we know all of the data is in a very safe and secure environment. It’s the best technology out there to really make sure that all of that information is not only safe and secure but meets UK and EU law.”

Patient.Info grew out of an online health information director set up by Dr Tim Kenny and his wife, Dr Beverley Kenny, in 1996. Tim led a group of medical authors to produce a resource for medical staff and their patients.

It has evolved into an award-winning service led by Jarvis – a GP, former GP trainer and resident doctor for the Jeremy Vine show on BBC Radio 2 – that also produces a newsletter sent to 750,000 subscribers and around 3,200 leaflets for patients and doctors on health conditions and 850 on medicines, in addition to hundreds of editorial features, all medically peer reviewed and approved.

Its 23-year growth has been mirrored by a rise in demand for GPs and the services they provide in communities. In 2017, the British Medical Association warned that the NHS was at breaking point. There are around 34,000 GPs in the UK, but a report by the King’s Fund, Nuffield Trust and Health Foundation in March this year stated that the shortfall in the number of GPs is “so serious that it cannot be filled at all”.

The Government is drawing up a Green Paper on social care in the UK, with former Deputy PM Damian Green recommending new taxes on older people and a private insurance model to top up a universal level of state care.

Jarvis has been a GP since 1990, and has seen first-hand the demand levels rise.

“We know that we have a huge crisis in the number of GPs and healthcare provision across the UK, we know that the Department of Health is moving very long way towards trying to empower people to be in charge of their own conditions and to self-care,” she says. “We know that up to one-in-three people walking up to A&E does not need to be there, and about the same proportion in general practice. We need to engage patients; we know that up to half of medications are not taken as they should be, and that’s even more of an issue for patients who are taking what we call preventive medication.”

“So much of the work we do these days is proactive, it’s about keeping people healthy and stopping them from getting ill in the first place,” Jarvis says. “That means that it’s not remotely surprising given that we’re doing so much more for our patients, and that they’re getting older and that they have more long-term conditions, that GP workload has increased by about 50% in the past 10 to 12 years alone. We have to empower patients to self-manage if general practice is going to survive and be there when people need it.”

<img width="4000" height="2660" src="" class="animate-viewport c-image" alt="Doctor talking to patient, shows laptop with hospital website on the screen" srcset=" 4000w, 300w, 768w, 1600w" sizes="(max-width: 4000px) 100vw, 4000px" data-attachment-id="73827" data-permalink="" data-orig-file="" data-orig-size="4000,2660" data-comments-opened="1" data-image-meta="{"aperture":"0","credit":"","camera":"","caption":"","created_timestamp":"0","copyright":"","focal_length":"0","iso":"0","shutter_speed":"0","title":"","orientation":"0"}" data-image-title="rawpixel-760103-unsplash" data-image-description="

Doctor talking to patient, shows laptop with hospital website on the screen

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“So much of the work we do these days is proactive, it’s about keeping people healthy and stopping them from getting ill in the first place”

According to research published in 2017 in BMJ Open, the open access medical research journal, GP appointments in the UK last an average of 9.22 minutes. People in 28 countries, including the US (21.07 minutes), Switzerland (17 minutes), Belgium (15 minutes) and Sweden (22.5 minutes), spend longer with their doctor.

The challenge for GPs is to offer people the best possible care when they are seeing them for less than 10 minutes. Patient.Info is helping family doctors by giving them fast access to information they can trust, while they are in a room with a patient.

“Around 60% of the GPs in the country have access to the information on Patient.Info directly within their consulting systems, which they can trust completely because it was written by their peers and it’s been peer reviewed,” Jarvis adds. “They can read it on their screen while the patient is in the consultation. I’ve used Patient.Info for 20 years and it is such an invaluable part of my working life. A patient came in recently complaining of chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness, and was convinced they were dying. I could immediately bring up the page on panic attacks, go through it with them and say, look at these symptoms, you’re having panic attacks.”

As people live longer, they develop more complex medical conditions that need to be managed. Whether it’s a website full of easy-to-read information or a leaflet, simplicity is key when a large proportion of the people who use NHS services are elderly. Azure is ensuring that no matter how technologically adept or otherwise someone is, they can still access the care they need.


Microsoft and Providence St. Joseph Health announce strategic alliance to accelerate the future of care delivery

Providence St. Joseph Health, in partnership with Microsoft, will develop and deploy new health care technologies that will harness the power of Microsoft Azure and AI with clinical expertise to transform the care experience

RENTON, Wash., and REDMOND, Wash., July 8, 2019 – Microsoft Corp. and Providence St. Joseph Health today announced a multi-year strategic alliance to accelerate the digital transformation of health care. The alliance will combine the power of Microsoft’s cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), research capabilities, and collaboration tools with the clinical expertise and care environments of Providence St. Joseph Health, one of the largest health systems in the country.

The two organizations will develop a portfolio of integrated solutions designed to improve health outcomes and reduce the total cost of care by combining technologies from Microsoft with Providence St. Joseph Health’s data and clinical expertise. The alliance will accelerate the health care industry’s adoption of the cloud and enable data-driven clinical and operational decision-making by leveraging Microsoft Azure, and industry interoperability standards like FHIR, to integrate siloed data sources in a cloud environment that enables security and compliance.

Providence St. Joseph Health logoProvidence St. Joseph Health will deploy next-generation solutions and emerging technologies from Microsoft and its partners at a Providence St. Joseph Health-affiliated hospital facility in Seattle, Wash., near Microsoft’s Redmond headquarters. This site will enable modern clinical and operational experiences for both patients and providers. The goal will be to scale these innovations across the entire Providence St. Joseph Health system, in a transformation that will bring innovative and necessary solutions to more communities.

“Providence St. Joseph Health has been on a journey to transform health care and achieve a vision of health for a better world. We’re excited to accelerate that journey by collaborating with Microsoft. Together, we’ll support doctors, nurses and all caregivers by equipping them with innovative tools and technology that make it easier to do the vitally important work of improving lives,” said Rod Hochman, M.D., president and CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health.
Microsoft logo

“Our alliance with Providence St. Joseph Health brings together the expertise of one of the largest and most comprehensive health systems in the country with the power of Azure, Microsoft 365 and Dynamics 365,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Our ambition is to accelerate Providence St. Joseph Health’s digital transformation and to build new innovations together that are designed to improve health care delivery and outcomes.”

As part of the strategic alliance, Providence St. Joseph Health will use Microsoft Azure as its preferred cloud platform and standardize productivity and collaboration tools for its 119,000 caregivers on Microsoft 365, and will continue to improve and support patient engagement using technologies including Dynamics 365. Providence St. Joseph Health doctors and nurses will use Microsoft Teams, which is part of the Microsoft 365 platform, for more secure communication and collaboration, enabling them to bring together chat, video meetings and conferencing, and line-of-business applications into a single hub.

About Providence St. Joseph Health
Providence St. Joseph Health is a national, not-for-profit Catholic health system comprising a diverse family of organizations and driven by a belief that health is a human right. With 51 hospitals, 829 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services, the health system and its partners employ more than 119,000 caregivers serving communities across seven states – Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas and Washington with system offices based in Renton, Wash., and Irvine, Calif.

About Microsoft
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Media Contacts:
Elizabeth Brophy, Providence St. Joseph Health,
Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft,


Harnessing the power of AI to transform healthcare

One of the many remarkable things about artificial intelligence is that while we tend to think of it as something that will have a big effect in the not-too-distant future, it is already transforming people’s lives in profound and powerful ways today. In factories and warehouses, AI is improving workplace safety by scanning thousands of videos to detect potential risks. In the U.S., researchers are exploring how AI can help public health organizations around the world prevent the spread of deadly diseases like Ebola, Chikungunya, and Zika by detecting the presence of pathogens in the environment and stopping transmission to humans before outbreaks can begin.

I believe this is the true promise and challenge of AI – using these new technologies to create a healthier and safer world for everyone. Now that AI has given computers the ability to recognize words and images, discover patterns in complex systems and reason and learn much like people do, it is enabling our devices to behave more naturally and more responsively. This is transforming how we understand the world and augmenting our uniquely human talents and abilities in ways that will enable us to begin to find answers to some of humanity’s most pressing challenges.

This is particularly true when it comes to human health. Today, it is possible to imagine a world where we have discovered new approaches that enable us to address some of our most pressing challenges in healthcare, including heart disease, chronic illnesses, and cancer. The good news is that innovators around the globe are already working on these issues. From detection to preventive care and personalized medicine, the opportunities to us AI to improve outcomes and reduce costs appear to be nearly limitless.

Ethan Jackson, a Microsoft researcher who is leading Project Premonition. (Photo credit: Brian Smale)
Ethan Jackson, a Microsoft researcher who is leading Project Premonition. (Photo credit: Brian Smale)

In India, for example, Microsoft is proud to work with Apollo Hospitals, one of nation’s largest private healthcare companies, to use AI to improve detection of cardiac illnesses that cause more than 3 million heart attacks in that country every year. Until now, it’s been difficult for doctors to identify patients who are at risk for coronary disease because most prediction models are based on studies conducted in Europe and North America and don’t apply well to Indian populations. For example, high LDL cholesterol, which is a significant cause of heart attacks in western countries, is less common in India.

Our approach is to combine the rich data and deep expertise that Apollo offers with Microsoft’s powerful cloud and AI capabilities to develop a scoring system to identify patients in India who are at high risk for suffering a heart attack.

To do this, a team of Apollo clinicians and data scientist started by reviewing more than 400,000 patient records from its hospitals around the country and found that nearly 60,000 patients had suffered a cardiac event after a health checkup. The challenge was to uncover the risk factors in the data that existing models had overlooked. To do this, they uploaded all the data they had collected to the cloud using Microsoft Azure and then worked with Microsoft Azure Machine Learning services to search for hidden correlations.

The team started with 100 potential risk factors and 200 lab data points. Using the massive computing power of the cloud, they trained machine learning algorithms to find the statistical significance of each factor in the occurrence of future heart attacks. This enabled them to create a model that identified 21 risk factors in Indian populations. Dr. K. Shiv Kumar, Apollo Hospitals’ chief of Chief of Cardiology, said the resulting model is twice as accurate at predicting the probability of future coronary disease as previous models. Not only is this transforming how physician’s conduct preventive health checkups, but they are now developing an AI-powered app that would allow anyone to find their heart risk score without visiting a doctor for a detailed health checkup.

In China, Ray Zhang, CEO of  a startup company called Airdoc, recruited a team of engineers to develop an AI-based diagnostic tool that can instantly detect signs of chronic illnesses including diabetes, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, age-related macular degeneration, and more – simply by taking a high-resolution image of the back of the eye.

The device takes advantage of the fact that examining the human retina is an effective way to assess the health not just of the eye, but to look for evidence of other diseases. To create it, the Airdoc team used thousands of retinal scans to create an algorithm using Microsoft Azure’s machine learning capabilities that is trained to look for tiny abnormalities such as specks, spots, and deformed blood vessels that can be warning signs for a wide range of health issues.

The Airdoc device is similar to the scanner optometrists use for routine eye exams. To use it, a patient sit on a stool, place their chin on a padded brace, and look into an eyepiece. The algorithm then automatically adjusts the angle until a green cross comes into focus and captures a high-resolution, medical-grade image that is instantly uploaded to the cloud, where it takes less than a second to conduct a detailed analysis that rates susceptibility to a long list diseases as either low, medium, or high. The results are then sent to the patient’s smartphone, with a recommendation to seek professional medical help if there are signs of potential problems.

Currently, the Airdoc device can recognize signs of more than 30 diseases. Eventually, it will be able to detect 200. The plan is to make it available in more than 1,000 hundreds optical retail stores across China over the next few years. The Airdoc device significantly reduces the amount of time physicians will need to spend reviewing and assessing scans, so they can focus more on identifying and treating patients with serious health issues. The potential to provide a simple and inexpensive way to detect not just eye problems but a wide range of diseases has the potential to transform when and how people begin treatment for chronic illnesses in China and around the world.

We’re also working with the Princess Margaret Cancer Center at University Health Centre in Toronto to redefine cancer treatment through a remarkable new approach called “single cell sequencing” that enables doctors to analyze the genetic makeup of every single cell in a cancerous tumor and then select a combination of drugs that is optimized to kill the greatest number of cancer cells. Typically today, doctors try one drug at a time to find the most effective combination for each individual patient. By utilizing the power of Microsoft Azure Machine Learning and the cloud, single cell sequencing is enabling doctors to predict how every cell will respond to each of the thousands of compounds that are available for cancer treatment and then create a truly personalized therapy based on the specific genetic characteristics of each cancerous tumor.

Azure also provides a common platform for sharing medical data and analytic tools with researchers and physicians across the country. Scientists at Princess Margaret Cancer Center now envision a time in the not-to-distant future when this kind of detailed genomic analysis will be available for every patient in Canada.

These examples are just the beginning when it comes to the outpouring of AI research and innovation Microsoft and its partners are involved in right now – and not just in healthcare. In future posts, I look forward to sharing how Microsoft is also helping innovators and entrepreneurs use the power of AI to transform the industries of agriculture and education.

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Launching today: ‘NextGen Health,’ Microsoft’s new podcast on the future of healthcare

Doctor talking with patient while looking at information on a deviceDoctor talking with patient while looking at information on a device

What’s next in healthcare? We’ve got some ideas. In NextGen Health, a new podcast series launching today from Microsoft, we guide you through the future of healthcare through interviews with providers who have already begun to use groundbreaking technologies and Microsoft Healthcare industry experts. Listen to the first episode of NextGen Health podcast here, or keep reading for a sneak peek on some of the stories we cover.

Reimagining healthcare

You’re at your doctor’s office. You’re sitting casually in the exam room. Meanwhile, a surgeon is examining your brain. Thankfully, the slices and neural pathways your doctor can see from nearly every angle are on the OpenSight, a HoloLens mixed-reality headset calibrated and developed for surgical use by medical imaging company and Microsoft healthcare partner Novarad.

According to Novarad executive Chris Bijou, the OpenSight’s three-dimensional model—derived from patient scans and overlaid in real time onto the patient’s body—provides precision medicine that creates better outcomes for caregiver and patient alike.

“The biggest thing is, you’re not actually looking at the computer and then trying to calculate in your brain. ‘How far is that rib or how far is that heart where you’re trying to get into that ventricle,’” Bijou said. “You’re putting it right onto the patient, looking right down into it.”

That’s just one great example from our episode about reimagining healthcare.

Empowering care teams

It’s been a hard day. You’ve just spent a long shift as a nurse on the ER floor. You’re tired, your head’s just hit the pillow, and ding! There goes the phone. Then again. And again. How are you supposed to maintain good morale—not to mention stay in compliance with legal regulations—when you can’t sleep because your fellow caregivers are communicating via text?

“This is just not an environment that clinicians can do their best work in,” says Emma Williams, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft focused on modern workplace for healthcare.

But if all of those communiques, as well as images and information related to patients, were moved into an app like Microsoft Teams tailored specifically for healthcare organizations, you would remove the risk of privacy violations—plus you’d finally get some rest. And that makes you excited to show up for work on your next shift.

“To be able to deliver the right information, to the right people, at the right time will be a huge innovation,” Williams says. “We believe we can wrap those systems in a bubble of communication and collaboration that’s mobile first, that brings teams together, that allows them to be more highly effective.”

Listen to our podcast episode about empowering care teams to learn more.

Personalizing the Patient Experience

You’ve been experiencing some discomfort. It’s been a few weeks, so you get a referral and visit a specialist. What that doctor sees may not be a complete picture of your health, however. If all of the information about not just your illness, but your wellness, lives inside your electronic health record (EHR), your caregivers can have a much fuller picture of your needs. At the same time, clinicians can use your EHR to communicate with you in ways that work for you—like via text message—to remind you of an appointment, or to drink water, or to come in to take an A1C test because your bloodwork shows you may be at risk for diabetes, for example.

“It’s really a cultural shift and mind shift to think about, how do I offer medicine at a personal level using what I know about the consumer, all of the data I have inside my EHR,” says Andrea McGonigle, Managing Director for Microsoft’s US health and life sciences team.

That is just the start of what we cover in the third of the six episodes in the debut season of NextGen Health. Throughout the full series, we discuss genomic breakthroughs that can offer targeted, more effective cancer treatments, show how artificial intelligence in health providers’ back offices can reduce costs and increase efficiency—while continuing to put the patient first. And while these transformations are happening across the entire spectrum of healthcare organizations, learn what Microsoft, and our partners, are doing to ensure that patients’ and caregivers’ data remains secure and compliant.

This is the future of healthcare.

You can learn more about each episode on the NextGen Health website or download and listen to NextGen Health on Apple, Google or Spotify.


Empowering clinicians with mobile health data: right info, right place, right time

Improving patient outcomes and reducing healthcare costs depends on healthcare providers such as doctors, nurses, and specialized clinician ability to access a wide range of data at the point of patient care in the form of health records, lab results, and protocols. Tactuum, a Microsoft partner, provides the Quris solution that empowers clinicians with access to the right information, the right place, at the right time, enabling them to do their jobs efficiently and with less room for error.

The Azure platform offers a wealth of services for partners to enhance, extend, and build industry solutions. Here we describe how one Microsoft partner uses Azure to solve a unique problem.

Information fragmentation results in poor quality of care

A patient is brought into the emergency department with a deep cut to the leg. The wound is several days old and the patient is exhibiting symptoms of illness, perhaps infection. As a clinician, you know the hospital has a clear protocol for wound management and possible infections. Do you know where to find this information quickly? Is it on a wiki, internal website, or on paper in a binder? Lastly, is it current? Finding the right information in these conditions can be time-consuming and stressful. Or worse, it could be inaccurate and out of date.

In many healthcare provider organizations today, information is fragmented between electronic health records (EHR), on-line third-party sites, intranet sites, and on paper. Additionally, some information may be on secured sites, not visible to everyone and data disappears if it’s unavailable offline. This situation can be detrimental to the quality of patient care because critical data is available too late or not at all. Even with internet access, the wrong information may come from a search engine. So aside from the logistical challenges of making data available, it’s important to ensure that only the right information is found. So, the enduring challenge is getting the right information to the right person, in the right place, and at the right time.

The searchability cost of file systems

Even a facility with modern IT resources such as computers, tablets, or specialized instruments presents obstacles in the search for information. Users must navigate through the network and tunnel into folders, backtracking if they are wrong. Some folders may not be available to everyone or require asking for permission when time is of the essence. Websites and apps may also require authorization. So what happens if a device is offline? Computer systems present their own hurdles to quick access.


The challenge has become a problem-to-solve for one Microsoft partner, Tactuum, who created the Quris Clinical Companion. Working with some leading hospitals, including the University of Washington and the University of Michigan, they are solving the problem for healthcare. From the Tactuum website comes this description:

“Our flagship product allows organizations to push out to staff, in real-time, the latest guidelines, protocols, algorithms, calculators and clinical handbooks. Put your existing clinical resources into clinicians’ hands right now and know that they’re using the latest and most up-to-date information.”

Tactuum has a few notable goals:

  • Right information: The content is vetted, with security safeguards. The content is easy to use, and data consumption insights are provided.
  • Right place: Available where you need it through mobile devices, workstations, and EHR systems.
  • Right time: Available on and offline. When online, real-time updates become possible.
  • Right cost: Minimal IT involvement, low maintenance, and no paper or printing required.

The graphic below illustrates the components and workflow of the system.

Infographic for Clinical Kowledge Manager (CKM)


  • Improve quality of care due to more effective decision-making (quicker and more reliable).
  • Save money on printing requirements, easier maintenance, and streamlined distribution.
  • Innovation through powerful data and analytics.

The solution supports improving patient outcomes with critical information at the point of patient care, saving both time and money. Here’s one example, according to a registered nurse and Quris user at Airlift Northwest in Seattle:

“Time savings has been immeasurable. In the past it was required to have a workgroup of staff, educators, and medical directors to review and update the hardcopy “Bluebook.” This was very expensive and required significant time. Now, a smaller group reviews policies and resources, does updates, and uploads it directly to the organization’s server for immediate use.”

Azure services

The Microsoft Azure worldwide presence and extensive compliance portfolio provide the backbone of the Quris solution, including the following key services:

  • Web Apps: Supports Windows and Linux
  • Blob Storage: Multiple blob types, hot, cool, and archive tiers
  • Azure Active Directory: Identity services that work with your on-premises, cloud, or hybrid environment
  • Azure SQL Database: Unmatched scale and high availability for compute and storage
  • Xamarin: Connects apps to enterprise systems, in the cloud or on premises

Next steps

To see more about Azure in the healthcare industry see Azure for health.

Go to the Azure Marketplace listing for Quris and select Contact me.


Measles and mumps? Data sharing on the cloud to improve public health

Woman working in a hospitalWoman working in a hospital

As once forgotten diseases start to reappear, state and local government agencies are looking to find new ways to ensure positive health outcomes for their citizens. I had a conversation with Steve and Claire Murchie at Envision Technology Partners. Their WebIZ immunization registry system is leveraging new technologies to help state and local government combat the recent outbreaks of diseases like mumps, measles, and other preventable illnesses.

Steve and Claire, recent measles outbreaks have reignited focus on the importance of immunizations so I’m hoping you can provide an update regarding what state and local governments are doing to ensure proper tracking of children’s vaccinations.

Yes, measles is a big issue – already in early April 2019 we have exceeded the number of cases nationwide for all of 2018. But it’s also mumps, pertussis and even hepatitis A, which has killed more than 40 people in one state alone. These are all vaccine-preventable diseases, which points the cause to less vaccine acceptance. The reasons for that are complex, but information is the best tool to combat vaccine hesitancy, and immunization information systems (IIS) are the primary tool used to track, measure and understand vaccination patterns at a public health level.

I understand health agencies in Delaware and Philadelphia are embarking on immunization data sharing that has the potential to improve immunization compliance and in turn diseases outbreak outcomes. Please tell us about that.

Due to various laws in the US, we don’t have a national registry of immunizations, so responsibility is passed to the state or local jurisdictions to run their own IIS. Until recently, there hasn’t been a clear legal and technology mechanism to facilitate sharing of data between two independent jurisdictions. For the past several years, though, there has been a project sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator in the Department of Health and Human Services to kickstart this sharing of immunization data, allowing states to maintain a more comprehensive view of patient protection within their populations. ONC’s contribution has included both standardization of the data use agreements between jurisdictions, and they have also stood up a messaging hub which supports the actual data integration.

While the pilot has been open to all public health jurisdictions, the first to complete a production connection were the State of Delaware and the City of Philadelphia. Both happen to use our IIS platform – WebIZ – but we’re actively trying to include some other neighboring jurisdictions as well. The project is described in this March 2019 issue of AIRA’s (American Immunization Registry Association) SnapShots newsletter.

So, Envision’s WebIZ solution is the backbone of this data sharing success. Please tell us more about that solution and where it’s implemented.

WebIZ is used in twenty state, local and territorial jurisdictions overseen by the Centers for Disease Control. We’re a standardized, commercial-off-the-shelf solution that is highly configurable but managed as a single code base. As a result, we can deliver software quickly and reliably without a lot of site-specific customization. And our customers benefit by receiving all enhancements which are paid for by any other customer, which leverages their investment dollars. Like many state and local government agencies, public health has faced years of diminished budgets, so that is a real benefit to them.

Some of the WebIZ implementations are on the Azure Government Cloud. Why are governments choosing that option, and what are the benefits?

State IT budgets are also under pressure, so there is both a movement away from home-grown IIS applications to vendor-supplied solutions, as well as increased support for cloud-based solutions. We were an early adopter of the Azure Government Cloud and have transitioned most of our larger sites over to it. We include hosting as a requirement, and it actually makes our job a lot easier. IIS tend to have a lot of moving parts – web interface, messaging interface, flat file and vital records imports – so it helps if we can have unfettered access to help diagnose problems that may arise. Managing the application infrastructure – which is mostly IaaS today, but starting to take on more PaaS flavors – also means that we have more control over operational upgrades for performance, scalability and security.

Please tell us about innovations in the immunization registry market. With AI being the center of so much attention, is there anything you’re doing to utilize AI to improve immunization registration?

If there is any silver lining to the recent outbreaks, it’s that public health agencies are spending more time slicing and dicing their data in order to learn more about their populations. We’ve been receiving many requests for assistance creating data extracts, and we’ve been adding functionality to make it easier for customers to analyze their own data, but there is a lot of variability in the technical resources available to immunization programs. So, we’ve been looking at tools like Power BI to increase the options available to less-technical users, while expanding the power of more advanced analytics through machine learning and related features. Some of the machine learning features have potential in our ongoing challenges with patient-matching, which plagues most large-population, multi-contributor databases.

Get more information about WebIZ. You can also request a free trial of Microsoft Azure Government and learn more about Microsoft’s Health and Human Services Solutions.


UCLA Health adopts Microsoft Azure to accelerate medical research and improve patient care

Cloud computing will help enable the delivery of more personalized health care for UCLA patients

LOS ANGELES and REDMOND, Wash. — May 30, 2019 — UCLA Health is deploying Microsoft cloud computing services to enable UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine to synthesize vast amounts of clinical and research data to speed medical discoveries and improve patient care.

Microsoft Azure, a cloud computing service, will provide UCLA Health with a standard platform through which disparate clinical information and research tools can be secured and managed by the health system. The solution will provide UCLA Health with advanced computing tools to more rapidly interpret and mobilize insights from such data and to enhance collaboration among researchers.

“Our data capabilities with Microsoft Azure will bring more medical discoveries and effective therapies to patients faster,” said Michael Pfeffer, M.D., assistant vice chancellor and chief information officer for UCLA Health Sciences. “The integration of information from structured data, like lab results and medication information, with unstructured data, like documentation, genomics and medical images, creates an incredibly powerful big-data learning platform for discovery.”

UCLA scientists will use the cloud computing tools to more efficiently analyze a variety of data sources. The artificial intelligence (AI) embedded in the tools enables speedy processing of data to glean insights for use by physicians and researchers. Machine learning enables software to recognize and act on important data patterns without the need for human instruction, producing discoveries as never before.

“Analyzing large data sets to make scientific discoveries is a race against time,” said Mohammed Mahbouba, M.D., chief data officer for UCLA Health Sciences. “Using machine learning to analyze a combination of clinical and genomics data can provide critical insights, but doing so with a traditional computing infrastructure can require significant processing time. Azure enables us to quickly deploy and scale high-performance computing environments that can reduce the required processing time sometimes from months to days to make discoveries.”

UCLA Health’s move to cloud computing is intended to advance the health system’s delivery of precision health, or the use of data and a patient’s individual circumstances, to tailor a more effective treatment. In 2017, UCLA Health and the David Geffen School of Medicine launched the UCLA Institute for Precision Health, led by Daniel Geschwind, M.D., Ph.D., to bring together faculty across multiple disciplines to make large-scale genetic and genomic research actionable for patient care. The David Geffen School of Medicine also partnered with the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering to establish a department of computational medicine, chaired by Eleazar Eskin, Ph.D., to leverage scholarship in data sciences to discover new approaches to analyzing health data.

“We are committed to creating better patient outcomes by providing UCLA Health with Microsoft Azure cloud and AI solutions to improve treatments and lives,” said Peter Lee, corporate vice president, Microsoft Healthcare. “By connecting health data and systems in the cloud in an interoperable way, we’re excited we can help advance health care data for more efficient and personalized care.”

The Azure platform employs industry-leading technology to help protect and secure sensitive data, allowing UCLA Health to continue to ensure compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA. Patient data in UCLA Health’s platform will not be shared with Microsoft as part of this agreement.

“Another advantage of cloud computing is the way it enables UCLA researchers to more efficiently and securely work with their peers,” said Paul Boutros, Ph.D., director of Cancer Data Science at UCLA Jonsson Comprehensive Cancer Center.

“Cloud computing will allow researchers from different fields and institutions to collaborate, joining data sets and software from different formats that could not previously be integrated in a simple way,” Boutros said. “We’re bringing together new communities of experts — including computer scientists, engineers, material scientists and others — to solve the biggest health care questions. This platform allows us to provide our research collaborators with secure access to important data in one place, without moving sensitive, private health information.”

The platform’s capabilities will also enable UCLA Health to use predictive analytics, or the analysis of historical data to model and assess what might happen in the future, to aid in disease prevention.

More about UCLA Health’s efforts in precision health can be found at

About UCLA Health

UCLA Health is among the world’s most comprehensive academic health systems, with a mission to provide state-of-the-art patient care, train top medical professionals and support pioneering research and discovery. UCLA Health includes four hospitals on two campuses — Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical CenterUCLA Medical Center, Santa MonicaUCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital, and the Stewart and Lynda Resnick Neuropsychiatric Hospital at UCLA — as well as the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. UCLA Health also offers an array of primary and specialty services at more than 170 clinics throughout Southern California. UCLA Health hospitals in Westwood and Santa Monica ranked No. 1 in Los Angeles and No. 7 nationally in the 2018-19 U.S. News & World Report assessment.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777,

Ryan Hatoum, UCLA Health, (310) 267-8304,

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at