When someone says the word “healthcare” what immediately comes to mind? If you are like most people you probably first think of doctors, nurses, clinics and hospitals. But in reality there is so much more to health and healthcare than that. In fact, most healthcare takes place where we live, work and play—in our cities and in our homes. Sure, clinics and hospitals are essential, but they are just a part of the healthcare ecosystem and really not even the most important part.
Most of today’s health problems and chronic diseases are determined by our genetic make up (something we cannot control) and how we live (something we often can control). Overall health is very much determined by the everyday decisions we make about what we eat, whether we get exercise, our habits (especially smoking and alcohol), our friends, our work, and so much more. Care actually starts in the home and all too often only ends up in clinics or hospitals when what we do at home stops working.
Even the clinic and hospital part of healthcare is shifting these days to put more emphasis on keeping people well instead of only taking care of them when they are sick. But this means a much greater focus is needed on resources, tools and technologies to arm people with the information they need to make smarter decisions and then act on those decisions.
Earlier this month, Microsoft kicked off CityNext, a global initiative that harnesses the power of people—whether as citizens, in businesses, or in governments—to create healthier, greener, safer, and more prosperous places to live. Although the focus of CityNext is far broader than health and healthcare, for all the reasons outlined above it is entirely appropriate that we include health in the dialogue we are having with citizens, businesses, and government leaders. Specific to health and healthcare we are demonstrating how cloud technologies, smart devices, mobile applications and people-centric solutions provide a framework for better access to health information, resources, and services from virtually any location. This includes new tools for personal health and wellness, remote care and case management, social benefits and administration, population health management, and more.
On the personal health and wellness front, I’m pleased to announce that my colleagues in our search division will release a new Bing Health and Fitness app in Windows 8.1. Just as there are currently apps for travel, music, video and news, when you install Windows 8, when you install Windows 8.1 there will be an app designed with your health and fitness in mind. Among other cool services in the Bing Health and Fitness app is integration with Microsoft’s application for storing and sharing personal health information, Microsoft HealthVault. The new Bing Health and Fitness app works through a well organized, very intuitive and frankly quite beautiful aggregation of tools and topics including Diet Tracker, Nutrition and Calories, Exercise Tracker, Exercises, Health Tracker, Symptom Check, Drug Information, and Conditions. You can learn more about Bing Health and Fitness here. There’s even a preview edition of the app you will see right now if you download the preview version of Windows 8.1.
In coming months you’ll be hearing a lot more about CityNext and in particular from me, about how Microsoft and partner technologies are being used to improve communication and collaboration, data analytics, and productivity in health and healthcare for citizens and patients as well as for all of those who work in the healthcare industry.