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Microsoft throws its weight, AI & Cloud beind transforming healthcare

Microsoft says, “The goal is noble: Empower people to lead healthier lives."

By James Nunns

Microsoft is taking a shot at breaking into healthcare by revealing cloud and artificial initiatives aimed at the industry.

For many tech companies the healthcare industry is hot property, it’s an industry that won’t go away and it costs hundreds of billions to run, just look at the NHS.

Microsoft’s approach to making greater inroads into the sector is to create the Healthcare NExT initiative that aims to bring research and health technology product development to the sector so that it can tap into Microsoft’s AI and cloud capabilities.

Never one that’s shy to play down its efforts, Microsoft wrote on its blog: “The goal is noble: Empower people to lead healthier lives.

“Making a difference in health care will require all that Microsoft can bring, fused with the industry expertise and experience from our partners: leading health care organizations and the companies that serve them.”

What the company is doing is to integrate greenfield research and health technology product development, as well as to establish a new model at the company for strategic health industry partnerships.

Some of the initial collaborations are said to include things like HealthVault Insights, which is a research-based project that allows partners to generate new insights about patient health, care plans and so on with the health of machine learning.

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Microsoft’s AI health chatbot technology is said to hopefully allow partners to build AI-powered conversational healthcare tools. The company said that MDLIVE plans to use its tech, while Premera Blue Cross is going to use it in order to help members look up information about their health benefits.

Then you have Microsoft’s take on 21st-century house calls. The Microsoft Office 365 Virtual Health Templates are designed to provide new functionality to connect people and providers through voice, video and messaging, said the company.

This will be powered by Skype for Business and it has open source templates to help make it easy for industry partners and developers to build solutions on it.

One of the big projects that Microsoft is contributing to in this sector is with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Centre, which is said to be one of the largest integrated healthcare delivery networks in the US.

“The $13 billion Pittsburgh-based system, comprising more than 25 hospitals, a 3 million-member health plan and 3,600 physicians, will be a core partner in our efforts to improve health care delivery through a series of projects, beginning with a focus on transforming clinician empowerment and productivity,” said Microsoft.

Read more: The promise, potential & challenges of big data in healthcare 

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