Healthcare has grown exponentially in the last decade— the last few years especially witnessing large industry titans enter the space.
Microsoft, which continues to be a staple name in nearly every industry, has been heavily investing in its healthcare offerings. As healthcare increasingly emphasizes efficiency and is becoming more receptive to technology, the company is doubling down and rapidly expanding its presence in the field.
Last year, Microsoft expanded its cloud services into healthcare, providing the “capabilities to manage health data at scale and make it easier for healthcare organizations to improve the patient experience, coordinate care, and drive operational efficiency, while helping support end-to-end security, compliance, and interoperability of health data.”
Now, the company has announced its first update for this platform, making way for new and more robust healthcare features to support “virtual health, continuous patient monitoring, and care coordination, and support for eight new languages.”
The updates are extremely timely. Given significant pandemic-driven factors, the past year has seen immense disruption in healthcare delivery, with an emphasis on prioritizing telehealth services and virtual offerings. Organizations and healthcare leaders are continuously searching for ways to efficiently enter and succeed in this market.
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Microsoft’s infrastructure helps provide for this. In a company blog, Tom McGuinness, Corporate Vice President, Worldwide Health, at Microsoft explains: “We’re introducing new Microsoft Dynamics 365 patient access features to streamline virtual experience for patients by allowing more flexibility in self-scheduling both virtual and in-person appointments through their existing patient portal and integrating virtual health assistants, like the Azure Health Bot service, for triaging, scheduling, and making it seamless to receive follow-up and wellness guidance from their care team.”
These services will be in addition to other integral tools, including patient monitoring services for connected wearables, data analytics tools for organizations, and other platforms to foster team collaboration.
Outside of purely services, Microsoft has also developed robust hardware for healthcare. Take for example Hololens, “an untethered mixed reality device with apps and solutions that enhance collaboration.” The applications and use-cases for this technology are unlimited. Deborah Bach explains how surgeons were able to use Hololens headsets to collaborate across the globe to conduct a surgery: “three surgeons on three continents discussed how to approach the procedure, conferring on each step and sharing their respective approaches.”
Furthermore, Microsoft is also forging new paths in the artificial intelligence (AI) space, especially to enable better functions in medical research, health equity, and data collaboration. This will be an important path for the company (and for the entire healthcare industry) moving forward, given incredible potential applications that AI and machine learning technologies can provide.
Indeed, as many large technology companies and industry tycoons enter the healthcare market, Microsoft will only continue to leverage its vast knowledge-base, industry experience, and diverse resources in order to push forward innovation. Given its relatively successful track-record over the last 40+ years, one can expect Microsoft to likely make a valuable mark in healthcare in the years to come.