Microsoft Corp. announced at HIMSS22 advancements in cloud technologies for healthcare and life sciences with the general availability of Azure Health Data Services and updates to Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. Combined with the recent close of its acquisition of Nuance Communications, Microsoft says they are positioned to amplify an organization’s ability to help others by leveraging trusted AI to address the biggest challenges transforming the future of healthcare for all.
Digital transformation was a major focus at HIMSS22. Many sessions reported how the health industry has undergone a rapid digital transformation over the past two years. To enhance that transformation, Microsoft announced they continue to deliver on its healthcare strategy with solutions that help enhance patient engagement and clinician experiences, empower health team collaboration, and improve clinical and operational insights. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare threads together innovative solutions from across the company to deliver a powerful, integrated, comprehensive cloud offering.
The health industry generates an overwhelming amount of data, much of which is unstructured and inaccessible. Oftentimes this data sits in silos and is not used to its full potential. Within that data lies the power to deliver better patient care and outcomes, further clinical advances, and accelerate research breakthroughs. The key to unlocking the data is interoperability across the entire health ecosystem. Microsoft took the first step to address health data interoperability with Azure API for FHIR in 2019. The company revealed the next evolution of that journey — announcing general availability of Azure Health Data Services.
Azure Health Data Services is purpose-built for protected health information (PHI) and brings together diverse datasets — like clinical, imaging and streaming data from medical devices — in the cloud using global interoperability standards of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine (DICOM). Azure Health Data Services is the only generally available solution of its kind to ingest, manage and transform a combination of clinical, imaging and medtech data. While other solutions exist for clinical and imaging data, Azure Health Data Services provides the most holistic view of the patient by unifying all three types of health data.
Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare also introduced new features that improve clinical and operational insights, such as Text Analytics for health structuring to FHIR. Text Analytics for health enables healthcare organization to process and extract insights from unstructured medical data. This new feature transforms unstructured clinical documents into FHIR resource bundles to accelerate insights and supercharge interoperability. Microsoft is the first cloud provider to allow customers to formalize their natural language processing output as bundles of interconnected hierarchical FHIR resources, in adherence with the U.S. Core standards.