Available Now: Microsoft Office 365 Public Beta for Health and Life Sciences

18 April 2011 | Steve Aylward, General manager, US Health & Life Sciences Solutions & Strategy, Microsoft

This week, Microsoft announced the public beta of Office 365, expanding it to millions more people, in more regions, and languages. This is great news for health organizations, all of whom face increasing pressures to reduce costs and complexity and simultaneously make heath information more available and transparent.

In this new environment, health and life sciences organizations can leverage cloud services and platforms to create a more collaborative, communication-driven environment that transforms data in actionable information. By tapping the power of the next generation of cloud productivity solutions, health organizations can focus on what they do best -- whether that be delivering better patient care or discovering new therapies -- instead of managing complex IT.
Formerly known as Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), Microsoft Office 365 combines the powerful collaboration tools of Microsoft Office Professional Plus, Exchange Online, SharePoint Online, Microsoft Office web apps and Lync Online in a an even more powerful cloud service. It introduces new online services and capabilities for customers and partners, including the new Office 365 Marketplace for customers to easily find Office 365 apps and services, virtually anywhere on almost any device (even for workers without a PC), added levels of security and up-time, and what we call “presence” via Lync Online, which allows colleagues to see who is online and available. Colleagues can conduct online discussions and ask question in real time via instant messenger instead of via phone or in-person to ultimately be more efficient.
As an early Office 365 user, Dallas Neurosurgical & Spine Associates found the capabilities in Lync to be particularly useful as the foundation for their telemedicine program. They are preparing to offer consultations to patients in rural areas around Dallas-Fort Worth, with ambitions to extend this capability to other parts of the globe. Some of the surgeons within the practice have patients living as far away as Saudi Arabia and Peru. By using Lync, these surgeons aim to reduce required travel, improve the coordination of care plans, and share their surgeons’ expertise with patients outside of the Dallas area.
The solution’s powerful security features and performance reliability give organizations like Dallas Neurosurgical the necessary data security and access control needed in a HIPAA-compliant health or life sciences environment. And, Office 365’s predictable pricing model is well-suited to health and life sciences organizations of all sizes, including smaller private physicians’ practices and the largest hospital, health plan, state-wide agency or pharmaceutical company.
In fact, we’ve been so inspired by the way in which smaller businesses are leveraging and innovating on new IT platforms that Microsoft is also launching the Office 365: Ready for Work Contest to extend a helping hand to organizations as they work to achieve their business goals. In order to enter the contest, small healthcare businesses around the world are invited to share their stories on the contest’s Facebook page. Five winners will be determined with community votes, and Microsoft will send one of our executives to work for the winners– or the charity of their choice – for a day. Winners also win Office 365 and $50,000 in advertising and business services.
As the concept of Accountable Care Organizations (ACO)’s take root in the marketplace, there is an obvious need to securely share data between primary care physicians, specialists, hospitals, health plans, and consumers (patients). In addition to secure, quick and accurate access to patient data, ACO’s will require an unprecedented level of collaboration for those organizations to communicate. Office 365 is uniquely suited to address the collaboration needs of the all parties that may play a role in ACO’s – from the large enterprise all the way through the ACO to the consumer/member/patient level.
Our customers – small and large- aren’t the only health and life sciences organizations poised to take advantage of the capabilities of Office 365. Our partners are already using the familiar tool set to develop innovative, easy-to-use and cost effective solutions for their customers as well. For example, Health Postbox Express already built the provider industry’s first meaningful use-certified EHR solution based on Office 365, and more partners across health and life sciences are creating new workflow and data management applications on top of our new cloud services platform as well.

Are you interested in joining the Office365 public beta program? Sign-up here, and please also tell us how Office365 will help you achieve your goals below – we may just profile your story on a future post.
Steve Aylward
General manager, US Health & Life Sciences Solutions & Strategy, Microsoft