Microsoft announces a series of health care initiatives

Programs are centered around A.I. for health care products.

himss omb image microsoft health IT
Credit: Microsoft

Microsoft this week announced several new health care-related initiatives and solutions for industry partners and organizations to apply artificial intelligence in multiple areas of care, along with a new partnership with a major hospital.

Healthcare NExT is a new initiative that will integrate health care partners and Microsoft’s A.I. and Research organization, with the goal of enabling a new wave of innovation using Microsoft’s A.I. expertise and global-scale cloud.

Microsoft also announced Microsoft A.I. in Health Partner Alliance, a group of partners focused on advancing health technology. Through the deal, Microsoft will give resources to its partners to apply A.I. to healthcare and will receive training and access to Microsoft technologies, engineering expertise and data sets.

The first partnership from NExT will involve the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), a $13 billion system involving 25 hospitals and 3,600 doctors. Microsoft and UPMC will work on several projects, beginning with a focus on "transforming clinician empowerment and productivity," whatever that means.

The company announced a number of collaborations from Healthcare NExT partners right out of the gate. They include:

  • HealthVault Insights, a new research-based project designed to allow partners to generate new insights about patient health, drive adherence to care plans and encourage patient engagement powered by the latest scientific advances in machine learning.
  • Microsoft Genomics is making the sample-to-answer process fast and easy through an Azure-powered genome analysis pipeline and an orchestrated ecosystem of innovative partners including BC Platforms and DNAnexus.
  • Microsoft’s A.I. health chatbot technology will be used by partners to build A.I.-powered conversational health care tools.
  • Project InnerEye is a research-based, A.I.-powered software tool for radiotherapy planning. The goal of the project is to allow dosimetrists and radiation oncologists to achieve 3D contouring of patients’ planning scans in minutes rather than hours.

The company is also working on ways to connect doctors and patients via Microsoft Office 365 Virtual Health Templates and Skype for Business. The open source templates make it easy for industry partners, developers and enterprises to build solutions to provide care wherever patients may be. RingMD, Careflow, Cambio and GE Healthcare have built from Office 365 Virtual Health Templates compelling and easy to use experiences.

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