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Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare: Reshaping the future of healthcare

There’s not a single part of healthcare that hasn’t been impacted by COVID-19. The past two years have transformed healthcare and trends have emerged, including the growing need to create more personalized experiences for patients, the opportunity to implement virtual health solutions to unlock new avenues of care for providers, and the challenge of reducing administrative burden so we can help lower clinician burnout.

Reshaping the future of healthcare will take continued agility to respond rapidly and predict what’s next, and that requires a new approach to healthcare solutions—one that harnesses data as a resource and turns its potential into power. Microsoft is committed to innovating new and cutting-edge solutions that help make healthcare more personal, affordable, effective, and accessible while continuing to improve the patient and clinician experience. We’re excited to showcase the next wave of innovation for Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare and how it continues to reshape the connected care journey. And if you missed last week’s news on the closing of the Nuance acquisition, we’re looking forward to sharing what’s new with both companies during HIMSS22 in Orlando, March 14 – 18, 2022. 

Enhancing patient engagement

Over the last several years, health systems have realized that creating a good consumer experience not only helps their patients but makes it easier for their staff to provide consistent care across the patient journey.

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare provides an upgraded holistic Patient view to help organizations better understand and elevate patient experiences—complete with a new enhanced 360-degree view of a patient’s journey in a clear and intuitive way. Organizations can customize those views for their own end-to-end scenarios. We’re also excited to preview new enhancements to Patient insights, which enable care managers, patient representatives, outreach specialists, and population health analysts to efficiently deliver and capture useful patient insights. Analytics from patient insights can potentially help organizations improve clinical processes and care management experiences.

To adapt to staffing shortages, empowering patient support and healthcare frontline workers with technologies like AI-powered bots and virtual visits allows them to assist patients remotely and effectively. This saves the team’s valuable time and helps ensure that patients still receive a consistent quality of care.

Azure Health Bot allows healthcare organizations to instantly build bot scenarios for collecting secure and compliant responses directly from patients for uses like triage, flu vaccinations, and more. Today, we’re excited to expand its template catalog with new templates for self-reporting of quality-of-life measures and chronic condition management.

We’re also launching several new features through Microsoft Teams for frontline workers in healthcare. We’re excited to announce the general availability of the Microsoft Teams EHR connector for Cerner. The new Cerner-validated application expands the capabilities of the Microsoft Teams EHR connector, making it easier for clinicians to launch virtual appointments with patients or consult with other providers in Teams directly from Cerner PowerChart, effortlessly invite other care team members to virtual appointments, and gain real-time status reports of their visits to help improve patient care. Additionally, to reduce no-shows, the new device test feature through the Microsoft Teams EHR connector, allows patients to test their hardware settings before their virtual visit.

To help lower the administrative burden, we’re providing new ways for organizations to improve virtual appointments. Patient triage information can now be gathered as part of the virtual appointment in Teams through the integration of Microsoft Forms and the Microsoft Bookings app.

We’ve expanded the ability for patients to request on-demand appointments with their provider. Organizations using on-demand scheduling can see and monitor on-demand appointments in a queue view through the Bookings app in Teams. Care teams can view and monitor on-demand appointment requests and get real-time updates on patient wait times, missed appointments, staffing delays, and more.

Gaining insights into the performance of virtual appointments is critical to understanding key business insights like lobby wait time, the impact of SMS notifications, appointment duration, and more. Authorized users can gain insights into these areas in the Microsoft Teams Admin Center for appointments scheduled through Microsoft Bookings and the Microsoft Teams EHR connector.

Empowering health team collaboration

The pandemic laid bare the crisis of burnout in the healthcare industry and exacerbated it in crucial ways. Many clinicians have hit their limits. A recent survey found that nearly a third of frontline healthcare workers in the U.S. are now considering not simply moving on from their institution, but leaving the field altogether. Indeed, the World Health Organization projects a shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030.

Technology can’t single-handedly end burnout, but it can help. The right tools can centralize communication, surface insights, facilitate file sharing, streamline workforce management, and integrate partner applications. And, the right purpose-built devices can streamline engagement and boost productivity, in addition to tracking and supporting wellbeing, keeping teams connected whether they’re several feet or many miles apart. Check out our latest WorkLab article, exploring some of the issues causing burnout of frontline healthcare workers and tools to help.

Solutions that improve communication and collaboration can also ease the added workload created by EHRs. Microsoft Teams gives caregivers a way to synchronize management efforts across clinicians and administrators, and securely communicate the right information to the right people. Adopting solutions like this doesn’t only increase efficiency—they let your team know that they and their time are valued. I encourage you to visit our HIMSS booth (#2300) to see how this innovation can make a difference in your health team’s productivity and collaboration.

Enhancing clinician experiences

The frontline healthcare worker “great resignation” and clinician burnout epidemic are two of the biggest challenges we have faced as an industry this decade. Microsoft + Nuance are uniquely positioned to address these issues with advanced cloud and AI solutions. Our technologies are designed to improve patient experiences and support for clinicians with automated clinical documentation, and greater flexibility in delivering care through telehealth applications.

Together, we will bridge silos of healthcare data, expand ambient clinical intelligence, increase physician and care team efficiency, and lower overall healthcare costs.

Improving clinical and operational insights

Another challenge facing the health industry is the sheer volume of data it produces, which is too often unstructured and inaccessible. This not only wastes valuable time on processing, but it also means that the data is unusable for analysis and AI and machine learning at scale. We’re excited to make new investments in Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare to support healthcare organizations in their data interoperability journey. The general availability of Azure Health Data Services is a critical next step to help health and life sciences organizations harness and unlock the power of health data.

Azure Health Data Services is a new centralized suite of products and solutions for clinical, imaging, and MedTech data—supporting data standards like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine (DICOM). Azure Health Data Services consists of a set of healthcare APIs, health data connectors, and tools that are purpose-built for personal health information—taking into consideration how data needs to be brought together from disparate sources, while still enabling compliance boundaries and patient privacy. The managed service enables health and life sciences organizations to empower new workloads, analyze multiple data types simultaneously, and build on a trusted cloud.

While FHIR is rapidly being adopted across the globe, there are significant gaps in how to represent unstructured information in the clinical narrative. With the launch of Text Analytics for health’s structuring to FHIR feature, that is about to change. The new structuring capability enables health organizations to transform unstructured clinical documents into bundles of interconnected hierarchical FHIR resources, in adherence with the US Core standards. With this breakthrough solution, Text Analytics for health customers will deepen patient and population insights—and supercharge interoperability.

Enabling increased value and tailoring through partners

For the last several years, Microsoft has worked with leading Independent Software Vendors (ISV) and System Integrator (SI) partners to develop within the Microsoft Cloud. Utilizing the strength of the Microsoft Cloud, our partners are dedicated to serving customers by providing integrated healthcare solutions that extend the core Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare capabilities and identify new opportunities for innovation. Our partners help support health systems to fully customize these capabilities to each customer’s unique environment and business processes. Across HIMSS there are many Microsoft partners joining us to share their latest innovation with attendees.

In the Microsoft booth (#2300), seven partners will join us in live demonstrations of their solutions, including Efferent, EPAM, KPMG, Quisitive, PwC, Tegria, and Teladoc. You’ll experience firsthand how our partners accelerate the delivery of value to our customers by leveraging Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare capabilities.

Reimagining healthcare together

The theme for HIMSS22 this week is “Reimagine Health,” and over the last two years, we have seen so many examples of inspirational and transformational innovation across healthcare.

Our interactions with customers continue to inspire us to keep enhancing the capabilities of Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, and our work to innovate and help reshape and reimagine healthcare will only continue to grow. Microsoft and our ecosystem of partners are committed to helping organizations strengthen resilience in people, enhance engagement, and empower frontline workers for the benefit of teams, organizations, and patients everywhere. Learn more about Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare from our website and follow us on social to stay informed on what’s happening on the horizon.