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New Microsoft open source software connector accelerates Internet of Medical Things on FHIR

Microsoft is expanding the ecosystem of FHIR® for developers with a new tool to securely ingest, normalize, and persist Protected Health Information (PHI) from IoMT devices in the cloud.  

Continuing our commitment to remove the barriers of interoperability in healthcare, we are excited to expand our portfolio of Open Source Software (OSS) to support the HL7 FHIR Standard (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource). The release of the new IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure is available today in GitHub.


An illustration of medical data being connected to FHIR with IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure

The Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is the subset of IoT devices that capture and transmit patient health data. It represents one of the largest technology revolutions changing the way we deliver healthcare, but IoMT also presents a big challenge for data management.

Data from IoMT devices is often high frequency, high volume, and requires sub-second measurements. Developers have to deal with a range of devices and schemas, from sensors worn on the body, ambient data capture devices, applications that document patient reported outcomes, and even devices that only require the patient to be within a few meters of a sensor.

Traditional healthcare providers, innovators, and even pharma and life sciences researchers are ushering in a new era of healthcare that leverages machine learning and analytics from IoMT devices. Most see a future where devices monitoring patients in their daily lives will be used as a standard approach to deliver cost savings, improve patient visibility outside of the physician’s office, and to create new insights for patient care. Yet as new IoMT apps and solutions are developed, two consistent barriers are preventing broad scalability of these solutions: interoperability of IoMT device data with the rest of the healthcare data, such as clinical or pharmaceutical records, and the security and private exchange of protected health information (PHI) from these devices in the cloud.

In the last several years, the provider ecosystem began to embrace the open source standard of FHIR as a solution for interoperability. FHIR is rapidly becoming the preferred standard for exchanging and managing healthcare information in electronic format and has been most successful in the exchange of clinical health records. We wanted to expand the ecosystem and help developers working with IoMT devices to normalize their data output in FHIR. The robust, extensible data model of FHIR standardizes the semantics of healthcare data and defines standards for exchange, so it fuels interoperability across data systems. We imagined a world where data from multiple device inputs and clinical health data sets could be quickly normalized around FHIR and work together in just minutes, without the added cost and engineering work to manage custom configurations and integration with each and every device and app interface. We wanted to deliver foundational technology that developers could trust so they could focus on innovation. And today, we’re releasing the IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure.

This OSS release opens an exciting new horizon for healthcare data management. It provides a simple tool that can empower application developers and technical professionals working with data from devices to quickly ingest and transform that data into FHIR. By connecting to the Azure API for FHIR, developers can set up a robust and secure pipeline to manage data from IoMT devices in the cloud.

The IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure enables easy deployment in minutes, so developers can begin managing IoMT data in a FHIR Server that supports the latest R4 version of FHIR:

  • Rapid provisioning for ingestion of IoMT data and connectivity to a designated FHIR Server for secure, private, and compliant persistence of PHI data in the cloud
  • Normalization and integrated mapping to transform data to the HL7 FHIR R4 Standard
  • Seamless connectivity with Azure Stream Analytics to query and refine IoMT data in real-time
  • Simplified IoMT device management and the ability to scale through Azure IoT services (including Azure IoT Hub or Azure IoT Central)
  • Secure management for PHI data in the cloud, the IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure has been developed for HIPAA, HITRUST, and GDPR compliance and in full support of requirements for protected health information (PHI)

To enhance scale and connectivity with common patient-facing platforms that collect device data, we’ve also created a FHIR HealthKit framework that works with the IoMT FHIR Connector. If patients are managing data from multiple devices through the Apple Health application, a developer can use the IoMT FHIR Connector to quickly ingest data from all of the devices through the HealthKit API and export it to their FHIR server.

Playing with FHIR
The Microsoft Health engineering team is fully backing this open source project, but like all open source, we are excited to see it grow and improve based on the community’s feedback and contributions. Next week we’ll be joining developers around the world for FHIR Dev Days in Amsterdam to play with the new IoMT FHIR Connector for Azure. Learn more about the architecture of the IoMT FHIR Connector and how to contribute to the project on our GitHub page.


FHIR® is the registered trademark of HL7 and is used with the permission of HL7

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Microsoft for Healthcare: new people, products and partnerships

a male doctor wearing a suit and tiea male doctor wearing a suit and tie

In healthcare and life sciences, advances in research and technology development are providing a deeper understanding of human health and leading to more effective ways to prevent and treat disease. At the same time, the shifting landscape of the business of healthcare, including changes in policy and new business models, has created disruption and uncertainty for health providers, insurers, and, most of all, for patients.

At the heart of both this promise and this uncertainty is data. Twenty years ago, much less than 20 percent of healthcare records existed in digital form. Today, that number stands at better than 98 percent – a remarkable digitization of an entire industry. This massive shift to digital creates an opportunity to use cloud computing, AI, and a host of other advanced digital technologies to usher in a new era of profound and powerful insights about human health. But to realize this opportunity, we need to make all that data usable.

It’s relatively easy to find interesting datasets that may contain important insights for human health. People and organizations engage with us every day to explore promising ideas about how to turn their datasets into better outcomes, better experiences, and lower costs. The potential is pretty amazing, but converting these opportunities into action is surprisingly difficult and time-consuming. There are still many barriers that must be overcome before the impact of AI can be made real, including information systems that are difficult to manage, incompatible data standards, inconsistent privacy regulations, and conflicting commercial incentives.

One of our most important commitments is to work with partners from across the healthcare industry and in governments to eliminate these barriers and make it much easier for healthcare innovators everywhere to be successful. The good news is that real progress is being made. Today, I am excited to provide an update on some of the work Microsoft is involved in that is helping to make that progress possible.

Partnerships

One thing that’s clear to all of us is that healthcare is so complex, and the issues so broad, that the best way to move forward is through partnerships with people and organizations that have deep expertise in every aspect of healthcare research, analysis, and delivery.

One example is our relationship with the Walgreens Boots Alliance, the largest retail pharmacy, health and daily living destination across the United States and Europe. With more than 75 percent of the U.S. population now living within five miles of a Walgreens, there is an important opportunity to extend care to where it is most convenient. One way we’re doing this is by working together to develop cloud AI platforms to integrate information across healthcare providers, pharmacies, and payers in ways that create personalized, community-based care networks. Central to our partnership is a focus on connecting people to healthcare services through their digital devices to support preventative self-care and reduce emergency room visits.

In July, we launched a new partnership with one of the largest health systems in the United States, Providence. We’re accelerating the adoption of data-driven clinical and operational decision-making by developing new tools and solutions that use Azure and the FHIR interoperability standard to integrate disconnected data sources. Building on this foundation, we’re working together to create a flagship “clinic of the future” in the Seattle area. We’re also bringing Microsoft’s strength in AI together with Providence’s clinical expertise and data to develop natural language processing tools to assist in cancer care.

For the past two years, we have been working intensively with our partners at Adaptive Biotechnologies on a major effort to decode the human immune system by coupling Adaptive’s advanced immune system sequencing technology with our large-scale machine learning capabilities to develop a map of T-cell receptor repertoires to disease states. While this is something close to a “moonshot” effort, we are increasingly convinced that real diagnostic and therapeutic results are possible in the near term. As part of this, it has been exciting to see Adaptive’s business success follow the trajectory of our joint science and technology success.

Earlier this month, we announced a groundbreaking alliance that will combine Microsoft’s advanced AI technology and the deep life sciences expertise of Novartis to address the challenges that make it so costly and time-consuming to develop new treatments. One of the most important goals of this multi-year alliance is to empower Novartis associates at every level of the organization to wrangle and share important datasets and then use AI to analyze information, and speed the discovery of new treatments, even if they aren’t data scientists by training.

Just recently, we’ve shared news of two more major partnerships. The first, with Nuance Communications, will see our two companies work together to transform the exam room by deploying ambient clinical intelligence solutions that capture, with patient consent, interactions between clinicians and patients so that clinical documentation writes itself. The goal is to empower caregivers to focus more on patients by dramatically reducing the burden of documenting doctor-patient visits.

The second is a seven-year partnership with Humana to use data and AI to enable a more holistic, value-based approach to healthcare delivery. Together we will create predictive solutions and intelligent automation to support more personalized care and help patients follow treatment plans and medication schedules. With a more longitudinal view of a person’s health, including the use of intelligent home health solutions that use voice technologies, we hope that Humana will better address factors that influence health outcomes.

Products

Working together with researchers and industry partners, we’re also moving forward to create a broad range of cloud-based tools and solutions that touch many aspects of the development and delivery of effective care.

As part of our ongoing commitment to making health data more easily accessible, we just announced the general availability of the Azure API for FHIR. FHIR is quickly becoming the preferred standard for exchanging electronic health information and enabling the management of PHI data in the cloud. A rapidly growing number of healthcare delivery and healthcare technology companies are already using the Azure API for FHIR to improve interoperability within their own IT systems, including Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) of the NHS, Darena Solutions, Northwell Health, and Humana. With the release of the Azure API for FHIR, Microsoft is the first cloud with a fully-managed, enterprise-grade service for health data in the FHIR format.

Earlier this month, we released Cromwell on Azure, an open-source project on GitHub from Microsoft Genomics that provides scientific workflow management for genetic analysis. There is so much promising genomics-powered research underway right now, including the work St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and Seattle Children’s Hospital are doing with the Microsoft Genomics service to gain a better understanding of pediatric cancers and how genetic variations contribute to infant mortality. It is extremely gratifying to have the opportunity to support these important initiatives.

And earlier this year, building on the Microsoft Healthcare Bot Service, we announced a new technology to help patients learn about clinical drug trials and enable researchers to find people to participate in clinical trials. It was an honor to have our clinical trials work included in the U.S. White House Presidential Innovation Fellows program.

People

Improving healthcare also demands a great team that understands the challenges that the healthcare industry faces and brings the right combination of expertise, passion, and insight. Over the last six months, we’ve added a number of the industry’s most talented and dedicated leaders to Microsoft’s healthcare leadership team, beginning with Dr. Gregory Moore, who joined Microsoft last spring as Corporate Vice President, Health Technology and Alliances. A neuroradiologist, researcher, engineer, and former Geisinger Health clinician, he is leading our research and development partnerships that focus on next-generation healthcare technologies and experiences.

This summer we were fortunate to recruit Dr. David Rhew to serve as Microsoft’s Chief Medical Officer and Vice President of Healthcare. David came to Microsoft from Samsung where he led the company’s healthcare initiatives. An adjunct professor at the Stanford University School of Medicine, David is a computer scientist who holds six U.S. patents related to healthcare technology and he was recently named one of Modern Healthcare’s 50 most influential clinical executives.

I’m very excited to welcome the newest member of our leadership team, Lisa Maki, who joined the company two weeks ago. As General Manager of Health Alliance Formation, she’ll play a central role in identifying new opportunities for strategic partnerships. Lisa is a highly respected technologist and entrepreneur. The startups she has founded have been unique in harnessing deep knowledge of the mechanics of data and data connections in the healthcare industry, making them remarkably impactful and successful. Most recently, Lisa co-founded and was CEO of PokitDok, a platform for healthcare interoperability including DokChain, one of the first blockchains for healthcare. PokitDok was recently acquired by Change Healthcare.

These leaders join an experienced team of healthcare and technology leaders that includes Heather Cartwright, Vikram Dendi, Jean Gabarra, Dr. Joshua Mandel, Ben Shobert, Desney Tan, Dr. Jim Weinstein, and others.

Looking ahead to the future

As exciting as the past few months have been, I know we’ve really only taken the first few steps to address the challenges in healthcare that we have long dreamed about solving. I believe the work that we are doing now with great people and fantastic partners from across the industry will open the door to new ways to understand human health that we are only beginning to imagine.

In that spirit, I look forward to sharing more news with you in the very near future as we continue to push the boundaries of what technology can do to improve health outcomes for people around the world. At the HLTH conference next week, we’ll share news of another exciting partnership and, hopefully, have a chance to connect with many of you.

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Azure becomes first cloud with a fully managed, first-party, enterprise-grade service to ingest, persist and manage healthcare data in native FHIR format

Today, Microsoft becomes the first cloud with a fully managed, first-party service to ingest, persist, and manage healthcare data in the native FHIR format. The Azure API for FHIR® is releasing today in generally availability to all Azure customers.

The core mission in healthcare is to deliver better health outcomes, and the data standard fueling the future of that mission is FHIR. The Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resource (FHIR) has revolutionized the industry in the last several years and is rapidly becoming established as the preferred standard for exchanging and managing healthcare information in electronic format.  Microsoft understands the unique value FHIR offers to enable management of Protected Health Information (PHI) in the cloud, so we’re advancing Azure technology to enable our health customers the ability to ingest, manage, and persist PHI data across the Azure environment in the native FHIR format.

With the Azure API for FHIR, a developer, researcher, device maker, or anyone working with health data—is empowered with a turnkey platform to provision a cloud-based FHIR service in just minutes and begin securely managing PHI data in Azure. We’ve simplified FHIR through this new Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) so customers can free up their operational resources and focus their development efforts on lighting up analytics, machine learning, and actionable intelligence across their health data.

Aridhia and Great Ormand Street Hospital (GOSH) in London, UK are leaders in the healthcare industry who are already leveraging FHIR in the Azure Cloud to power their Digital Research Environment (DRE), serving both historic and current patient records data: 

“We now have a unified API as a basis for designing, testing, and deploying the next generation of machine learning and digital services in the hospital for our young patients. This will also enable rapid and easier collaboration with our international pediatric hospital partners to share specialised tools to improve patient outcomes and experience,” said Professor Neil Sebire, Chief Research Information Officer at GOSH.

“Partnering with Microsoft on the Azure API for FHIR allows us to scale out and accelerate our customers’ use of SMART on FHIR. The managed service is a great additional component in the Aridhia DRE platform, bringing research and innovation closer to clinical impact,” added Rodrigo Barnes, CTO at Aridhia.

Managed FHIR service in the cloud

Normalizing health data in the FHIR format allows you to leverage the power of an open source standard that evolves with the science of healthcare. The FHIR standard is designed precisely for health data flows, so it allows for data interoperability now and sets your ecosystem up for the future as the science of medicine evolves.  Blending a variety of data sets through a FHIR service ushers in powerful opportunities for accelerated machine learning development. As you develop and implement research and efficiency models for your system, data output can be securely and easily exchanged with any application interface that works with FHIR API.

Using the Azure API for FHIR brings your team all the benefits of the cloud – paying only for what you use, delivering low latency and high performance, and providing on-demand, scalable machine learning tools with built in controls for security and intelligence.

Key features of the Azure API for FHIR include:

•    Provision and start running an enterprise-grade, managed FHIR service in just a few minutes
•    Support for R3 and R4 of the FHIR Standard
•    Role Based Access Control (RBAC) – allowing you to manage access to your data at scale
•    Audit log tracking for access, creation, modification, and reads within each data store
•    Secure compliance in the cloud: ISO 27001:2013 certified, supports HIPAA and GDPR, and built on the HITRUST-certified Azure platform
•    Global Availability and Protection of your data with multi-region failover
•    SMART on FHIR functionality

Security for PHI data in the cloud

The cloud environment you choose to manage your Protected Health Information (PHI) matters. Microsoft runs on trust.

We’ve built the Azure API for FHIR so your data is isolated and protected with layered, in-depth defense and advanced threat protection according to the most stringent industry compliance standards. Azure covers 90+ compliance offerings, including International Organization for Standardization (ISO 27001:2013), and the Health Insurance and Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).  You can be confident that the Azure API for FHIR will enable persistence, security, and exchange of PHI data in a private and compliant pipeline.

  “Humana is using Microsoft’s Azure API for FHIR to enable care team access to our members’ digital health records in a universal language and that is guarded by always-on security. By providing access to members’ records, Humana can focus on supporting doctors, nurses, and clinicians and helping our members experience their best lives.” – Marc Willard, VP, Humana

“Using Azure API for FHIR allows us to focus on designing People Compatible™ solutions for healthcare organization of all sizes in this dynamic regulatory environment, with less worrying about security and scalability.” – Pawan Jindal, Founder & President, Darena Solutions

Building the foundations of artificial intelligence in healthcare

While we’re excited to light our cloud on FHIR, we’re even more excited about the foundations FHIR is forging for the future of machine learning and life sciences in healthcare.  We’re actively engaging with a broad set of customers who are pioneering new innovation with FHIR. Whether you’re improving operational efficiency across your ecosystem, need a new secure FHIR-based data store, or want to create richer datasets for research and innovation, the future of health data in the cloud is here, and it’s on FHIR.

Check out Azure API for FHIR and do more with your health data.

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Humana and Microsoft announce multiyear strategic partnership to reimagine health for aging populations and their care teams

Companies will partner to build predictive and personalized health care solutions to help members manage health issues using Microsoft’s Azure cloud, Azure artificial intelligence and voice technologies

Graphic showing main

LOUISVILLE, Ky., and REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 21, 2019 On Monday, Humana and Microsoft Corp. announced a strategic partnership focused on building modern health care solutions for Humana members aimed at improving their health outcomes and making their health care experiences simpler to navigate. Using the power of Microsoft’s Azure cloud, Azure AI, and Microsoft 365 collaboration technologies, as well as interoperability standards like FHIR®,1 Humana will develop predictive solutions and intelligent automation to improve its members’ care by providing care teams with real-time access to information through a secure and trusted cloud platform.

Humana will empower doctors to deliver personalized, proactive health care by providing a holistic view of their patients, ensuring preventive care, keeping up with medication schedules and refills, and offering perspective on social barriers to health, such as food insecurity, loneliness and social isolation. In addition, Humana will leverage Microsoft technologies for health care-tuned natural language understanding and speech recognition to improve administrative and clinical workflows to make health care easier for members and clinician partners.

As a first step in the seven-year partnership with Microsoft as Humana’s preferred cloud provider, Humana will modernize its technology platforms and aggregate data on Microsoft Azure, enabling a truly longitudinal view of its members’ health histories, to facilitate Humana’s members and their care teams having complete health records at their fingertips when and where they need it.

“Achieving our goal to provide better care experiences and improve our members’ health requires strong partnerships that allow us to be smarter, safer and faster in delivering care,” said Heather Cox, chief of Digital Health & Analytics at Humana. “The technologies to empower our members to get ahead of their health issues and equip doctors with information exist today. Our partnership with Microsoft gives us a secure space and modern platforms to put these technologies to work for patients and their trusted providers.”

Humana will also enable efficiencies by standardizing productivity and collaboration tools for its 41,600 employees on Microsoft 365. For example, Microsoft Teams enables healthcare professionals to use a secure hub for coordinating patient care. Humana employees can use Microsoft Teams to assist members, to centrally manage and securely share patient interaction history and files, and to communicate by chat and voice with care team members and health plan administrators to improve quality of care.

“With an estimated 10,000 people joining the Medicare system daily, we have a tremendous opportunity to address the growing demands on the health care system by improving health outcomes and lowering costs,” said Greg Moore, M.D., Ph.D., corporate vice president of Health Technology and Alliances at Microsoft. “We’re excited to combine Humana’s industry expertise with Microsoft’s Azure cloud, Azure AI and voice capabilities to remove barriers, promote health care data interoperability, and create solutions to ensure this growing population gets the right preventative, acute and long-term care for the best health outcomes.”

Beyond enhancing Humana’s technology platforms, this partnership will also address two core innovation areas. Humana will leverage Microsoft Azure and Azure AI to develop on-demand and virtual medical services. In addition, Humana will deliver a more integrated health care experience across all touchpoints with Azure AI and voice capabilities to personalize patient care.

“The next step for medical records is to go beyond the collection of information to the delivery of insights,” said William Shrank, M.D., chief medical and corporate affairs officer at Humana. “Microsoft technologies offer Humana the ability to apply sophisticated analytics to our members’ records and, in turn, provide clinicians and care teams with the opportunities to make a difference in patients’ health.”

With Azure AI, Humana will be able to instantly translate the many different languages of an individual’s electronic health record and decipher nonelectronic parts, such as socio-economic determinants of health, and store them alongside the rest of the patient’s information. With this technology, Humana will develop health care-specific clinical intelligence capabilities, such as equipping home health solutions with voice technologies that enable care workers to be more productive, and will allow Humana to proactively capture and address important barriers to health.

As part of the strategic partnership, the companies have committed to a multiyear research and development (R&D) investment to build new insights and advance Humana’s focus on value-based care. This investment will include direct funding, dedicated R&D teams and specific co-developed projects. The companies will also explore the building of next-generation health care experiences to transform the industry and care delivery.

Click here to download the infographic.

About Humana

Humana Inc. (NYSE: HUM) is committed to helping our millions of medical and specialty members achieve their best health. Our successful history in care delivery and health plan administration is helping us create a new kind of integrated care with the power to improve health and well-being and lower costs. Our efforts are leading to a better quality of life for people with Medicare, families, individuals, military service personnel, and communities at large.

To accomplish that, we support physicians and other health care professionals as they work to deliver the right care in the right place for their patients, our members. Our range of clinical capabilities, resources and tools – such as in-home care, behavioral health, pharmacy services, data analytics and wellness solutions – combine to produce a simplified experience that makes health care easier to navigate and more effective.

More information regarding Humana is available to investors via the Investor Relations page of the company’s web site at www.humana.com, including copies of:

  • Annual reports to stockholders
  • Securities and Exchange Commission filings
  • Most recent investor conference presentations
  • Quarterly earnings news releases and conference calls
  • Calendar of events
  • Corporate Governance information

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.

1 FHIR® is the registered trademark of HL7 and is used with the permission of HL7.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

Humana Corporate Communications, Kate Marx, (502) 271-9288, kmarx1@humana.com

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. 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 http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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Microsoft and Nuance join forces in quest to help doctors turn their focus back to patients

Imagine a visit to your doctor’s office in which your physician asks you how you’ve been feeling, whether your medication is working or if the shoulder pain from an old fall is still bothering you — and his or her focus is entirely on you and that conversation.

The doctor is looking at you, not at a computer screen. He or she isn’t moving a mouse around hunting for an old record or pecking on the keyboard to enter a diagnosis code.

This sounds like an ideal scenario, but as most people know from their own visits to the doctor, it’s far from the norm today.

But experts say that in an exam room of the future enhanced by artificial intelligence, the doctor would be able to call up a lab result or prescribe a new medicine with a simple voice command. She or he wouldn’t be distracted by entering symptoms into your electronic health record (EHR). And at the end of the visit, the essential elements of the conversation would have been securely captured and distilled into concise documentation that can be shared with nurses, specialists, insurance companies or anyone else you’ve entrusted with your care.

A new strategic partnership between Microsoft and Nuance Communications Inc. announced today will work to accelerate and deliver this level of ambient clinical intelligence to exam rooms, allowing ambient sensing and conversational AI to take care of some of the more burdensome administrative tasks and to provide clinical documentation that writes itself. That, in turn, will allow doctors to turn their attention fully to taking care of patients.

Of course, there are still immense technical challenges to getting to that ideal scenario of the future. But the companies say they believe that they already have a strong foundation in features from Nuance’s ambient clinical intelligence (ACI) technology unveiled earlier this year and Microsoft’s Project EmpowerMD Intelligent Scribe Service. Both are using AI technologies to learn how to convert doctor-patient conversations into useful clinical documentation, potentially reducing errors, saving doctors’ time and improving the overall physician experience.

“Physicians got into medicine because they wanted to help and heal people, but they are spending a lot of their time today outside of the care process,” said Joe Petro, Nuance executive vice president and chief technology officer. “They’re entering in data to make sure the appropriate bill can be generated. They’re capturing insights for population health and quality measures. And although this data is all important, it’s really outside a physician’s core focus on treating that patient.”

YouTube Video

Primary care doctors spend two hours on administrative tasks for every hour they’re involved in direct patient care, studies have shown. If they don’t capture a patient’s complaint or treatment plan during or shortly after an exam, that documentation burden will snowball as the day goes on. In another recent study, physicians reported one to two hours of after-hours work each night, mostly related to administrative tasks.

This shift to digital medical record keeping and so-called ‘meaningful use’ regulations is well-intentioned and has provided some important benefits, said Dr. Ranjani Ramamurthy, senior director at Microsoft Healthcare who leads the company’s EmpowerMD research.

People no longer have to worry about not being able to read a doctor’s handwriting or information that never makes it into the right paper file. But the unintended consequence has been that doctors are sometimes forced to focus on their computers and administrative tasks instead of their patients, she said.

After starting her career in computer science, Ramamurthy went back to school to get a medical degree and pursue cancer research. But as she walked the halls of the hospital every day, she couldn’t help thinking that she was missing an opportunity to use her background to create tech solutions that could reinvigorate the doctor-patient relationship.

Ramamurthy noted that most physicians got into healthcare because they want to use their skills and expertise to treat patients, not to feel tethered to their keyboards.

“We need to work on building frictionless systems that take care of the doctors so they can do what they do best, which is take care of patients,” she said.

Built on Microsoft Azure — and working in tandem with the EHR — this new technology will marry the two companies’ strengths in developing ambient sensing and conversational AI solutions. Those include ambient listening with patient consent, wake-up word, voice biometrics, signal enhancement, document summarization, natural language understanding, clinical intelligence and text-to-speech.

Nuance is a leading provider of AI-powered clinical documentation and decision-making support for physicians. Leveraging deep strategic partnerships with the major providers of EHRs, the company has spent decades developing medically relevant speech recognition and processing solutions such as its Dragon Medical One platform, which allows doctors to easily and naturally enter a patient’s story and relevant information into an EHR using dictation. Nuance conversational AI technologies are already used by more than 500,000 physicians worldwide, as well as in 90 percent of U.S. hospitals.

Microsoft brings deep research investments in AI and partner-driven healthcare technologies, commercial relationships with nearly 170,000 healthcare organizations, and enterprise-focused cloud and AI services that accelerate and enable scalable commercial solutions. Earlier this month, for instance, Microsoft announced a strategic collaboration to combine its AI technology with Novartis’ deep life sciences expertise to address challenges in developing new drugs.

In other areas, Azure Cognitive Services offers easy-to-deploy AI tools for speech recognition, computer vision and language understanding, and trusted Azure cloud services can support the user’s compliance with privacy and regulatory requirements for healthcare organizations.

As part of the agreement, Nuance will migrate the majority of its current on-site internal infrastructure and hosted products to Microsoft Azure. Nuance already is a Microsoft Office 365 customer for its more than 8,500 employees worldwide, empowering them with the latest in collaboration and communications tools, including Microsoft Teams.


“We need to work on building frictionless systems that take care of the doctors so they can do what they do best, which is take care of patients.”

~ Dr. Ranjani Ramamurthy, senior director at Microsoft Healthcare


“Just capturing a conversation between two people has been a thorny technical problem for a long time, and a lot of companies have attempted to crack it,” Petro said. “This partnership brings two trusted healthcare superpowers together to solve some of the most difficult challenges and also to leverage the most innovative advances we’ve made in AI, speech and natural language processing.”

The companies will expand upon Nuance’s early success with ACI and expect the technology to be introduced to an initial set of physician specialties in early 2020, and then it will be expanded to numerous other medical specialties over the next few years, Petro said. Initially, the ACI output may be checked by a remote reviewer with medical expertise to provide an important quality check and produce additional training data for the AI models. Once the system has proven its accuracy for a given physician, the ACI documentation will go directly to that physician, who can review it, make any necessary revisions and sign off on a treatment plan all in real-time, Petro said.

With a patient’s consent, ACI is designed to securely ingest and synthesize patient-doctor conversations, integrate that data with information from an EHR, populate a patient’s chart and also help the EHR deliver intelligent recommendations to the doctor.

With innovations in multi-party speech recognition, language understanding and computer vision, these tools can listen to the encounter between the doctor and a patient who grants consent, sense whether they’re pointing to a left knee or right knee when verbally describing a particular pain, extract medically relevant details and translate what just occurred in the exam room into actionable clinical documentation and care suggestions.

“Moving forward, we recognize that reducing the burden of clinical documentation is just the beginning,” said Dr. Greg Moore, Microsoft’s corporate vice president for health technology and alliances. “As the core AI improves and becomes more capable, it will be able to understand much more deeply what is going on by observing doctors and nurses in their day to day work. Ambient clinical intelligence will be able to work in tandem with the EHR to help convert those observations into supportive, augmenting actions.”

For instance, an AI-enabled system can learn to recognize when a doctor is talking to a patient about a new medication, and it can automatically review past conversations as well as the patient’s history to reduce the risk of a drug interaction or allergic reaction. Or it can mine a patient’s complicated medical history with new reported symptoms and offer suggestions for potential diagnoses for the doctor to consider.

In addition, the two companies will open up the ACI platform to an ecosystem of partners than can bring other highly valuable AI innovations to the exam room or at the bedside where the ambient sensing device will be present.

“We want ambient clinical intelligence to assist the EHR in delivering recommendations at the time when it matters — not three days later on your patient portal or when a nurse follows up, but when the doctor and patient are face to face and when that information can actually inform care,” Ramamurthy said.

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Nuance and Microsoft partner to transform the doctor-patient experience

Strategic partnership accelerates the delivery of ambient technologies to reduce clinician burnout by enabling doctors to focus on patients, while AI focuses on administrative tasks

BURLINGTON, Mass., and REDMOND, Wash. — Oct. 17, 2019 Nuance Communications Inc. and Microsoft Corp. on Thursday announced they have joined forces to help transform healthcare delivery for a more sustainable future. Together, the companies will accelerate the delivery of ambient clinical intelligence (ACI) technologies that will power the exam room of the future where clinical documentation writes itself.

The Nuance-Microsoft partnership brings together leading technologies from both companies:

  • Nuance’s healthcare-optimized speech recognition and processing solutions such as its Dragon Medical platform already used by more than 500,000 physicians worldwide; advanced conversational AI for ambient clinical documentation and decision support; voice biometrics; and specialized ambient sensing hardware
  • Microsoft Azure, Azure AI and Project EmpowerMD Intelligent Scribe Service backed with advanced conversational AI and natural language understanding

“The Microsoft partnership will accelerate our ability to solve for healthcare’s most pressing challenges — together,” said Mark Benjamin, Nuance CEO. “The ambient technologies we will jointly deliver can improve productivity and professional satisfaction, while empowering doctors to focus on what they do best: take care of patients.”

Physician burnout is at epidemic levels. A recent study shows that primary care doctors now spend two hours on administrative tasks for every hour they’re involved in direct patient care. Physicians reported one to two hours of after-hours work each night, mostly related to administrative tasks.

Microsoft CEO, Satya Nadella, said, “We have an incredible opportunity to use advances in cloud and AI technology to transform healthcare delivery. Together with Nuance, we will apply the power of Azure and Azure AI to this challenge, with the aim of improving the day-to-day life of firstline healthcare workers everywhere — so they can provide better care.”

Working in tandem with long-term electronic health record (EHR) partners to develop the technology, ACI will deliver a seamless and engaging interaction between clinicians and patients. Through patient consent, ACI will synthesize patient-clinician conversations, integrate that data with contextual information from the EHR, and auto-populate the patient’s medical record in the system.

“Physician burnout has become one of the most important concerns facing the healthcare industry today,” said Dr. James Linder, Nebraska Medicine CEO. “We’re excited about the early results of ACI to help clinicians focus more on patients. We look forward to the innovations our two trusted partners, Nuance and Microsoft, will deliver together.”

The companies will expand upon Nuance’s early success with ACI and expect to introduce the technology to an initial set of physician specialties in early 2020. Built on Microsoft Azure, this new technology will marry the two companies’ strengths in developing ambient sensing and conversational AI solutions, including ambient listening, wake-up word, voice biometrics, signal enhancement, document summarization, natural language understanding, clinical intelligence and text-to-speech.

As part of the agreement, Nuance will migrate the majority of its current on-premises internal infrastructure and hosted products to Microsoft Azure. Nuance already is a Microsoft Office 365 customer for its more than 8,500 employees worldwide, empowering them with the latest in collaboration and communications tools, including Microsoft Teams.

About Nuance Healthcare

Nuance provides intelligent systems that support a more natural and insightful approach to clinical documentation, freeing clinicians to spend more time caring for patients. Nuance healthcare solutions capture, improve, and communicate more than 300 million patient stories each year, helping more than 500,000 clinicians in 10,000 global healthcare organizations to drive meaningful clinical and financial outcomes. Nuance’s award-winning clinical speech recognition, medical transcription, CDI, coding, quality, and medical imaging solutions provide a more complete and accurate view of patient care.

About Nuance Communications Inc.

Nuance Communications (NASDAQ: NUAN) is the pioneer and leader in conversational AI innovations that bring intelligence to everyday work and life. The company delivers solutions that understand, analyze, and respond to people – amplifying human intelligence to increase productivity and security. With decades of domain and AI expertise, Nuance works with thousands of organizations globally across healthcare, financial services, telecommunications, government, and retail – to empower a smarter, more connected world. For more information, please visit www.nuance.com.

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, rrt@we-worldwide.com

Nuance Media Relations, ReviveHealth for Nuance, (716) 553-3882, nuance@thinkrevivehealth.com

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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.”

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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.

Signed,
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.

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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.

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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="https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk.jpg" class="animate-viewport c-image" alt="Sarah Jarvis and Jason Keane" srcset="https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk.jpg 4032w, https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk-2.jpg 300w, https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk-3.jpg 768w, https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk-4.jpg 1600w" sizes="(max-width: 4032px) 100vw, 4032px" data-attachment-id="75200" data-permalink="https://news.microsoft.com/en-gb/features/patient-info-is-using-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-the-nations-health/sarahjason/" data-orig-file="https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk.jpg" 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="https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk-1.jpg" class="animate-viewport c-image" alt="Doctor talking to patient, shows laptop with hospital website on the screen" srcset="https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk-1.jpg 4000w, https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk-5.jpg 300w, https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk-6.jpg 768w, https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk-7.jpg 1600w" sizes="(max-width: 4000px) 100vw, 4000px" data-attachment-id="73827" data-permalink="https://news.microsoft.com/en-gb/2018/12/04/scottish-research-company-aridhia-is-moving-to-azure-which-could-be-a-huge-boost-for-alzheimers-research/rawpixel-760103-unsplash/" data-orig-file="https://www.sickgaming.net/blog/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/how-patient-info-website-uses-azure-to-keep-its-finger-on-the-pulse-of-health-in-the-uk-1.jpg" 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.