UK Microsoft division explores new ways to bring AI to healthcare

Iain Buchan, clinical professor in public health informatics at University of Manchester has been tapped to lead the project.
By Mike Miliard
02:49 PM

Microsoft's Cambridge, U.K., research division. Photo via Google Maps

Microsoft has launched a new healthcare initiative at its Cambridge, UK, research facility where it will investigate new applications of machine learning and AI in healthcare.

Areas of research might include patient monitoring systems, predictive analytics and new tools to manage chronic conditions such as diabetes, officials say.

Iain Buchan, clinical professor of public health informatics at the University of Manchester has been tapped to lead the project.

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Buchan's title will be Director of Healthcare Research for Cambridge-based Microsoft Research. He will also join Microsoft's Healthcare NExT, an initiative launched earlier this year that works collaboratively with various health industry stakeholders to explore ways to better apply AI and cloud technologies to healthcare.

Buchan has more than 25 years of experience researching ways data and analytics can improve patient care and public health, and at the University of Manchester has built a large and well-respected informatics research team.

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Microsoft's careful approach to research – especially on new and fast-evolving technologies such as AI – was one of the appeals of this next project, he said.

"Microsoft conducts scientific research with rigor, and earns the respect of those in academia and the healthcare sector for being properly cautious, especially when it comes to artificial intelligence. This diligence differentiates Microsoft from many other companies in the digital health stampede.

"The Cambridge lab is an exciting environment, where people think outside the box in ways that are vital for transforming, not merely translating, healthcare with smarter algorithms and connected technologies," he added. "The mix of disciplines in the lab blends the behavioral, social and technical approaches needed to engineer transformative tools for future healthcare."

In addition to his roles at the University of Manchester, Buchan, who has raised more than 100 pounds in research funding, is also Domain Director for Population Health at Manchester's Faculty of Biology, Medicine and Health and Honorary Consultant for Public Health England, NICE and the NHS.

"Most healthcare organizations record only episodes of care, blind to the full journey of health that connected technologies and smarter models of personal health could reveal," said Buchan. "Careful harnessing of new sources of health data and AI could empower patients in this way, building smarter supply chains of healthcare around patients rather than clinics," he said.

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