Doctor with protective gear working on healthcare technologyWhile the field of healthcare informatics is certainly not new, the opportunity to derive novel breakthrough insights from digitized health data is. Informaticists have produced meaningful impact for decades, especially in the clinical decision support domain, where analytics have substantially shaped care pathways to deliver better patient outcomes. We’ve seen steady progress in accessing and securely sharing health data to reduce readmission rates, prevent hospital-acquired infections, avoid emergency room overcrowding and more. The result: an enhanced standard of care.

What’s exciting is the opportunity to further explore the potential of health informatics, which was described in 2012 by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as “the science, the how and why, behind health IT.” For years, healthcare has been limited by a fragmented application landscape, inaccessible electronic medical records, and complex data standards. This environment created an opening to engineer cloud platforms, such as our trusted, Azure-powered Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, simplifying the aggregation, curation and analysis of data to:

  • Lower the cost and complexity of health data engineering.
  • Make information more accessible to caregivers to mitigate risks, gain insights and improve the care pathway.
  • Create gains across clinical and operational scenarios.

As we leave behind the decade of meaningful use and have mostly digitized health records now, we are entering the golden age of health informatics.

Achieving more for all of us

My team and I have the good fortune and responsibility to help empower U.S. healthcare providers, payers, medical device and pharmaceutical companies to use data to deliver better experiences, insights and care. We are passionate about driving digital transformation and innovation that enable organizations to achieve more for all of us, particularly in offering personalized care, empowering care teams and improving operations.

From early 2020 on, we’ve seen the health and life sciences community rise to each challenge posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, rapidly embracing many of our cloud and AI solutions and leading to some incredible health informatics advances. For example:

  • To improve patient care and community health, Novant Health is using data strategically, merging datasets and improving analytics with Microsoft Azure and Power BI to gain insights and more quickly recognize when pharmaceutical costs are out of alignment. “We’re bringing together clinical, financial and other data sources in Power BI so we don’t have to hunt down anomalies in different reports,” says Kate Forbes, Novant Health’s vice president of Insights and Analytics. “We immediately understand the bigger picture and take action faster.”
  • As one of the largest health systems in the nation, Providence is easing emergency room overcrowding by using Microsoft Azure Databricks and other Azure services to support its new Providence Healthcare Data Platform. “I think this overcrowding solution, and the solutions that will come from the technology portfolio and capabilities that we’ve built out, will have a really positive impact on patient care and our caregivers’ ability to provide that care,” says Brett MacLaren, Providence chief data officer.

These are just two examples of informatics momentum allowing hospitals to reimagine healthcare.

“Contoso Healthcare”

To keep pace with the demand from U.S. Health and Life Sciences customers, our team developed a solution that showcases how our healthcare-data-aware cloud platform spurs the art of the possible for informaticists and clinicians. We show how a CEO of a multilocation health system logs into the fictional “Contoso Healthcare” portal to obtain a finger on the pulse of the healthcare system in real time, with a dashboard illlustrating comprehensive occupancy and readmission rates as well as revenue, costs and other key performance indicators (KPIs).

Using this Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare single pane of glass, built on Azure Synapse Analytics, Data Lake Analytics, Power Automate, Power Apps, and other tools, the executive might notice that Contoso’s Miami hospital has a higher readmission rate than its peers in Los Angeles and New York. The CEO could then bring the readmission issue to the attention of Contoso Miami’s hospital administrator, calling for an investigation into the root cause and orchestrating an appropriate intervention.

In another scenario, the CEO takes a look at a retrospective of the financial impact of COVID-19, from revenue to costs, bed occupancy and availability, ventilator utilization, and even real-time social media analytics to help gauge public sentiment and patient satisfaction. These KPIs establish a baseline and provide a method to use machine learning and cognitive services to produce predictive analytics.

The time is now

Our new Microsoft Clinical and Operational Informatics assets demonstrate a holistic, visual and compelling way to see a diverse set of data come alive and deliver profound insights that drive healthcare improvements.

The time is now to leverage a modern cloud-based informatics platform that generates optimum clinical and operational outcomes and serves as the catalyst for this emerging golden age.