Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare touts telehealth, remote team collaboration

Billed by the software giant as its first industry-specific cloud product, the newly-launched platform is also aimed at enhancing patient engagement, improving provider communication and boosting analytics.
By Kat Jercich
12:25 PM

Microsoft this week launched its first industry-specific cloud offering, Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. The platform aims to help providers improve patient engagement and collaboration among health teams through features including data analytics and enhanced telehealth capabilities.

WHY IT MATTERS

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare features a number of capabilities that will help facilitate provider collaboration and boost operational and clinical insights, the software giant says.

Learn on-demand, earn credit, find products and solutions. Get Started >>

Through Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing, Dynamics 365 Customer Service and Azure IoT, healthcare teams can create unique care plans for patients or groups of patients, says the company. This allows providers to set up remote health-monitoring, chatbot interactions and as-needed virtual visits.

The system also incorporates the Bookings app into HIPAA-compliant Microsoft Teams for ease of conducting telehealth appointments, and includes portals that patients can use to schedule their own visits and pay bills.

The company touted the product's potential role in enhancing provider coordination. 

"Even before the current global pandemic, the healthcare industry has been in the midst of a massive shift marked by the rise of team-based care due to increased medical specialization, exponential growth in the volume of digital patient data, and increasingly demanding data protection requirements," said corporate vice president of Worldwide Health Tom McGuiness and corporate vice president of Microsoft Health Dr. Gregory J. Moore in a blog post about the launch. 

"Too often, the tools providers use to coordinate patient care are fragmented and impede the collaborative workflows required in a complex care environment," Moore and McGuiness continued.

Through new integration between Microsoft Teams and Power Apps, says the company, healthcare organizations can automate workflows, organize data around FHIR and share results with other hospitals.

"Our partner ecosystem extends the value of this platform, with custom-built solutions for healthcare," said Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella in remarks introducing the product.

Organizations can try Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare for free over the next six months.

THE LARGER TREND

The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred new innovation in patient monitoring and cloud computing. 

In April, GE Healthcare introduced a remote-monitoring tool using Microsoft's Azure platform to help clinicians care for ventilated patients.

Other tech behemoths have offered cloud computing technologies to healthcare organizations.

The Google Care Healthcare API, launched last month, is intended to enable standardized information sharing between healthcare apps and Google Cloud systems.

"We're in a time where technology needs to work fast, securely, and most importantly in a way that furthers our dedication to our patients," said Dr. John Halamka, president of Mayo Clinic Platform, in a statement accompanying that launch.

ON THE RECORD

"Security and compliance remain a strategic priority for healthcare organizations, and the shift to remote work only increases the need for integrated, end-to-end security architecture that reduces both cost and complexity," said McGuinness and Moore.

"Microsoft has the highest levels of commitment to trust, security, and meeting industry compliance standards and certifications in the industry," they continued.

"We know that technology has a role to play in accelerating progress for solutions to the pandemic and other pressing healthcare concerns and challenges," they said. "Looking ahead, we expect to see healthcare organizations continue to use newly implemented technology tools throughout the recovery period and into the new normal."

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.