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How the Cloud and Mixed Reality are Transforming Patient Care

By Todd Bergeson, Sr. Global Marketing Manager, Public Sector, Microsoft on April 5, 2018

Filed under Health

Focus on: Microsoft in Health Digital Transformation

In recent years, interest among health organizations in adopting cloud and hybrid-cloud solutions hasn’t matched that of other industries. HIMSS 2018, however, indicated a shift. Health organizations around the world are rapidly adopting cloud and hybrid-cloud solutions to modernize each step of the patient journey, and the Microsoft booth was packed with companies looking to see how Microsoft and our partners are transforming care through cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI).

During the conference, speakers emphasized the importance of separating hype from reality when discussing buzzword technologies such as AI, Blockchain, and mixed reality. Rather than using them as quick-fix, short-term solutions, they championed implementing such technologies as part of a broader approach to developing intelligent systems of insight and engagement.

Driving intelligent health with systems of insight

Systems of record like Electronic Health Records (EHRs) have laid the foundation for intelligent health, and at HIMSS 2018, systems of insight emerged as the next evolution of these platforms. By incorporating external data sources and applying AI technology powered by advanced analytics, health organizations can glean deeper insights from their own data.

In a session titled “Empowering Healthcare with Systems of Insight,” Tom Lawry, Director at Microsoft Worldwide Health, explained that there have been a lot of AI “one-hit wonders.” True systems of insight, he said, inject AI into effective workflows and processes.

Consider this real-life example of AI actively preventing adverse events and improving outcomes: Ochsner Health System adopted the Epic AI platform in combination with Microsoft Cloud technology to bring machine learning to the bedside. Now, their software continuously analyzes thousands of data points from bedside vitals and generates predictive alerts when it identifies high-risk patients.

In the “Platforms that Elevate the Quality of Care” session, John Doyle, Director of Microsoft Worldwide Health, invited Dr. Sunil Gupta, Founder and CMO of Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems (IRIS), to present IRIS’ solution for the early detection of diabetic retinopathy. The IRIS FDA Class II retinal diagnostic solution integrates seamlessly into clinical primary care workflows. In this case, as part of a system of insight, AI enables the early detection of diabetic retinopathy to end preventable blindness in primary care, improving outcomes for patients and helping to reduce the cost of care. In the same session, Dr. David Thompson of Navigator discussed the use of intelligent health agents in digital patient engagement. One such chatbot platform is the Microsoft Health Bot, which makes use of clinical content provided by Health Navigator.

Health organizations all over the world are looking to leverage the power of AI and the cloud to improve outcomes, accelerate performance, and realize the vision of precision medicine. The Azure platform provides end-to-end capabilities that enable the healthcare industry’s move to the cloud. To this end, Doyle introduced the Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint, which provides automated processes for ingesting, storing, analyzing, and interacting with sensitive and regulated data. Released under an MIT open source license, the blueprint is designed to help customers accelerate their ability to develop AI solutions to solve clinical and operational use case scenarios, while maintaining security, privacy, and compliance obligations.

While Tom and John discussed systems of insight for the clinical aspects of healthcare, Hector Rodriguez, Chief Security Officer at Worldwide Health, demonstrated how the same concept can be applied to security and compliance.

In a session titled “Defense Against the Dark (Cyber) Arts,” Rodriguez spoke about how healthcare providers leverage Microsoft’s intelligent security to protect their identities and data while gaining increased visibility into cyber security and risk scores. He stressed that health organizations should be data-driven and integrate AI and machine learning into their security workflows – a point that was re-emphasized by Wes Wright, CTO of Sutter Health, as he shared how his organization leverages Office 365 and Microsoft’s security capabilities to strengthen patient care.

Cloudneeti, another partner in the security space, was on-hand to demonstrate how the cloud compliance tools they provide enable health organizations to accurately report their security and risk posture to their boards, as well as understand where improvements can be made in their security framework.

Center care on people with systems of engagement

Building on systems of insight, systems of engagement offer new ways to enhance the patient experience. A number of health organizations today use outdated clinical systems that limit their ability to effectively engage with others outside their local networks. Systems of engagement go beyond these traditional capabilities to help health organizations build stronger connections with patients and enable increased collaboration between staff.

As patient expectations of the care experience continue to rise, it’s imperative that health organizations invest in systems of engagement. Patients today not only compare their provider relationship to other healthcare organizations, but also to the experiences they have as consumers. As such, health companies must dramatically improve their patient engagement experience to match the seamless interactions individuals find in the retail space.

At a session on the consumerization of healthcare, Andrew Tran, Director of Worldwide Health, highlighted how patient-centric platforms are already transforming the patient experience. He invited Tom Pacek, the CIO of New Jersey health system Inspira, and Jeff Fisher, Principal & Director of Microsoft partner Intraprise, to discuss how Intraprise has enabled Inspira to better understand their patients and create personalized experiences. By tracking patient interactions and streamlining access to this data through the cloud, Inspira delivers concierge-level customer service, engaging with patients the right way, through the right channel, at the right time.

Attendees also discovered Oneview Healthcare’s new tool for enhancing the healthcare experience for pediatric patients and their families. In partnership with the Sydney Children’s Hospital Network, and utilizing Microsoft Azure technology, they developed the My Health Memory app, which enables seamless clinical documentation, appointment management, and documentation sharing.

Announcing new solutions

While at HIMSS, we announced new solutions that enable health organizations to implement systems of engagement for increased collaboration between care teams.

During a session on the modern workplace, Paul Smolke, Director of Worldwide Health, and Connor Flanagan, Industry Solutions Manager at Worldwide Health, spoke about Microsoft’s partnership with Avanade to streamline the tumor board process. Avanade VP of Digital Workplace, Thomas Hoglund, explained that by digitizing tumor boards, health organizations can help reduce the number of time-consuming in-person meetings and enable specialists to see three times as many cases. Additionally, the collaborative digital environment makes documentation faster and easier.

At Microsoft’s Health Innovation Theater, Connor Flanagan presented on the Health Team Collaboration solution, which includes templates for digitizing health team huddles. By replacing notecards and whiteboards with a collaborative digital workspace, health teams can streamline the development of new processes. Using a bot solution, ideas are automatically captured, categorized, assigned to a stakeholder, and tracked.

Using this approach, effective patient care and collaboration strategies can be shared across organizations more easily. For example, if one team successfully lowers their infection rate, the protocol and success metrics they use are made available to other teams, who can then build strategies around an established approach.

The Health Innovation Theater also showcased how a variety of companies are utilizing cutting-edge technology, such as blockchain and mixed reality, to advance digital health. MintHealth discussed how blockchain adds value to certain real health scenarios, and presented a blockchain-based population health and care management solution. Healthcare NExT demonstrated their intelligent and compliant chatbots that are designed to improve conversations between patients, providers, payors, and pharma, with the goal of improving patient care and outcomes. 

Rabin Medical Center presented a mixed reality solution to tackle the complex challenge of navigating liver tissue in surgery. Their Microsoft HoloLens-compatible software reconstructs liver imaging into a three-dimensional holographic object that serves as a guide for liver surgeons, enabling them to remove liver tumors while avoiding injury to vulnerable structures.

New solutions in precision medicine, acute crisis care, and patient engagement, also stole the show. 2bPrecise presented their point-of-care precision medicine platform, and demonstrated how they’re ushering in the next era of genetic testing by providing physicians with the tools to implement actionable, clinically-translated genomic intelligence into their workflows. Another Microsoft partner, AiR Healthcare Solutions, wants to shift treatment for people with behavioral health disorders from acute crisis care to a value-based model that promotes sustained communication and accountability for outcomes. To do so, they launched the AiRCare disease management service, which has delivered personalized care and clinical insights to more than 50,000 individuals.

Learn more

With systems of insight and engagement, technology serves as an enabler, rather than the cause of change. And, by integrating these new technologies into well-designed systems, people are ultimately the drivers of digital transformation.

Learn more about Microsoft’s presence at HIMSS 2018 and our vision for intelligent health:

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