Microsoft has invested deeply in artificial intelligence (AI) research for many years. By applying billions of sets of big data and machine learning in the research process, Microsoft has successfully expanded AI technologies to the field of manufacturing, retail, the service sector, and even healthcare. After the introduction of HealthVault, a personal health management service platform, Microsoft has once again integrated robots, voice recognition, and cognitive services, thus successfully launching Microsoft Health Bot and Microsoft StaffHub. All these three applications offer deep personalization, conversational intelligence, and world knowledge to medical personnel and patients, which optimize medical SOPs and introduce medical resources to every household, thereby facilitating the healthcare industry in achieving digital transformation. With the premise of complying with international standards of information security, Microsoft’s AI-related healthcare service will effectively elevate quality of care and promote positive doctor-patient relationships.
The Internet of Things — The Key to Achieving Care Everywhere
The vision of achieving digital transformation in the healthcare industry was revealed in the World Economic Forum. With the 25 billion (this number is expected to multiply within five years) connected devices within the extant IoT, far-reaching and ubiquitous high-speed data transfer and connected devices, cheaper and smaller sensors, low-cost data storages, and revolutionary analytical and machine learning technology, the face of the healthcare industry will undergo extensive changes in the coming decade. The employment of telemedicine and the Connected Homes Program will make “care anywhere” a possibility. The healthcare industry will also act as a leading force in this process of transformation. In the face of becoming an aging society, low birth rate and the possible bankruptcy of the national healthcare system in Taiwan, it’s critical to allocate and utilize medical resources efficiently to achieve the goal of aging gracefully in a fulfilling way while providing affordable medical services for all. This is the core issue to be solved by digital transformation powered by technologies.
“As population aging continues to accelerate, Taiwan’s aging index reached 100.18 for the first time during last month; the aged population is now larger than the young age population. The National Development Council also estimates that the percentage of aging population will exceed 14% by 2018 and 20% by 2020. By that time, Taiwan will officially become a hyper-aged society. Prolonged life expectancy, the prevalence of chronic illnesses, and limited medical resources are issues that the healthcare system and society as a whole must address as soon as possible” says Steven Shaw, General Manager of Microsoft Taiwan. “As the aging population, has become more active in the society, Microsoft Taiwan has also devoted itself to developing a more comprehensive medical ecosystem. With the aid of technology such as AI, natural speech, and robots, time spent on waiting to receive medical care, diagnosis, prescribing, and applying for healthcare coverage is decreased and the processes are optimized. These types of technology can effective assist medical personnel in monitoring the patient’s condition after appointments, which leads to more effective home healthcare, a decrease in the number of hospital visits or examinations, and an overall reduction in wasted medical resources. Furthermore, patients are able to enjoy remote healthcare in the comfort of their homes. For both service providers and users of the healthcare system, the application of new technologies paves the way to achieving equal and efficient medical resource allocation.”
Digital Transformation in the Healthcare Industry — Four Dimensions Centered on Elevating Healthcare Quality and Improving Engagement
Digital transformation involves re-centering the operations of an organization through the use of digital, social, mobile, and emerging technologies to reinvent the ways of thinking and work. Visionary leadership, clashes of different thinking and the encouragement of innovation to promote new business models are the key to the success of digital transformation. On the other hand, enterprises can integrate the digitization of their assets and employ technology to optimize the user experience of employees, customers, vendors and partners so on.
Taking Hong Kong’s Department of Health and Hospital Authority for examples, Microsoft Asia Healthcare Lead Danny Yeo has identified five primary problems that hospitals now face: (1) doctors travel frequently among hospitals need to access the medical cases and doctor training materials, which are siloed within hospitals; (2) decentralized and distributed locations and limited IT support; (3) medical staff use Whatsapp, a consumer messaging APP that IT cannot control; (4) IT personnel are unable to manage aged containerized APPs on Linux, and are always on alert for fear of unexpected failures; and (5) IT personnel are unable to track the dependency of problematic apps and cannot anticipate which systems are affected. Therefore, the promotion of digital transformation to record, manage, analyze and respond to various circumstances is the primary goal of digital transformation.
In the face of the many obstacles in digital transformation, Microsoft upholds the concept of “Mobile First Cloud First” and propose four major dimensions in digital transformation. The four dimensions are: engage your patients, empower your care teams, optimize your clinical operational effectiveness, and transform the care continuum. In addition to digital healthcare, precision medicine, and information security, the allocation of human resources of medical personnel and the relationship of patients and medical personnel are all tasks to be undertaken in the digital transformation of healthcare industry. Through digital transformation, data can be transformed into insights that can be further utilized by medical personnel and optimize medical processes while providing the necessary healthcare resources to patients. This will not only help facilitate medical communications and but also improve the quality of medical care and ultimately improve the relationship of patients and medical personnel.
HealthVault, Microsoft StaffHub, and Health Bot Offer Customized Services and Experiences Through General Medical Interactions
The prevalence of AI facilitates the centralized management of data, enhances communication convenience and security, and ensures the stability of medical applications. Subsequently, problems that stem from inadequate human and financial resources in hospitals can be effectively mitigated by optimizing processes, reducing manual data entry, and conserving the time and labor costs required in physical data transmission.
“Microsoft’s HealthVault, Microsoft StaffHub, and Health Bot aim to incorporate AI into medical procedures and data management to analyze and optimize doctor-staff interactions, creating value-added applications. These services not only bring professional medical assistance from the hospital to patients’ homes, allowing every patient to receive hospital-quality care via connected devices but also resolves the misallocation of medical resources and ambiguity of medical processes,” Microsoft Asia Healthcare Lead Danny Yeo explained, “With Microsoft’s enterprise grade security protection and it’s compliance with various Medical IT and Cloud Security standards, users can ensure their sensitive data is fully protected and can be exchanged and shared in a secure environment, which will also motivate patients to be willing to share their personal medical data for medical personnel to provide more customized healthcare or medical research and further improve the quality of healthcare services.”
With the inclusion of AI applications, services like HealthVault, Microsoft StaffHub, and Health Bot create unprecedented opportunities for users. These services are not only more intuitive but also have the potential of providing even more customized services. A few examples are listed below:
HealthVault: Centralized storage, management, application, and exchange of personal and family members’ health data information
HealthVault can assist users in the following four health management categories:
Organize your family’s health information: Track your drug use, medical history, blood pressure, symptoms and indisposition, allergies, physical conditions, physical examination results, and radiology reports and images.
Be better prepared for doctor visits and unexpected emergencies: Authorize emergency staff to access your health data over the Internet via computer, smartphone, and/or tablet devices.
Create a more patient-centric and complete picture of year health: Access your examination results, prescription history, and treatment records. Authorize laboratories, pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics to upload your health data to HealthVault or upload data yourself for easy tracking of chronic illnesses. HealthVault offers trend charts and a search mode, allowing you to compile a complete medical report for your doctor. You can also store medical images and share them with medical staff or people you trust, thereby creating a health management support network.
Achieve your fitness goals: The weight management dashboard assists in managing weight at fitness objectives by tracking weight, activity, and food intake. You can also set specific goals or check your progress. HealthVault can be connected to wearable devices to track exercise and training. HealthVault provides reminders to help you stay positive and on track. You can then adjust your workout based on your health data to maximize effectiveness. You can also post your progress on social media to share your weight-loss, activity, or calorie-burn results with your friends.
Microsoft StaffHub: Staff scheduling, rounds scheduling, and instant communications
Microsoft StaffHub is a cloud-based platform that works across all your devices. It enables staff workers and their managers to manage time, communicate with their teams, and share content. Managerial staff such as doctors and head nurses can create schedules or projects to consolidate relevant members into a team. They can then instantaneously update relevant activities and schedules. The platform can be used to manage staff needs and share case notes, images, reports, and charts across different mobile platforms. In addition, nurses and on-the-go staff member can view their upcoming schedules, swap a shift, or request time off. They can also communicate with other team members individually, in a small group, or across the entire team, view content, and take appropriate actions.
Microsoft Health Bot: A robot with conversational intelligence
Microsoft Health Bot provides deep personalization, conversational intelligence, and world knowledge for initial patient triage. The Health Bot is completely customizable. It is built with advanced customization options and an extensible framework. Partners have the flexibility to tailor the bot to their unique patient scenarios and can easily integrate third-party endpoints, like EMRs and patient portals. Health Bot offers support for interactive diagnostic symptom checkers, layperson natural language, and multi-turn dialog with users, and it learns from previous interactions. The information sources for conversational intelligence derives from HealthVault (which provides information on lab results, medications, and wearable data), Cortana (which enables access to deep patient knowledge in multiple areas), partner data sources, Bing (which provides local information, maps, and crowd search data), and CDC/WHO/NHS/NIH databases.
“Using Microsoft Health Bot, users can now access their health data conveniently, instantaneously, and in their preferred language. Insurance companies can visualize their expenses using client reports and reinforce client-company relations.” Microsoft Asia Healthcare Lead Danny Yeo indicated, “According to a market report released by eMarketer in 2015, 80% of the participants were willing to share their health data to improve medical care, 59% were willing to provide their health data for medical research, and 52% were willing to share their health data to obtain a deduction in insurance premium. These outcomes imply that patients are willing to provide their personal health data to hospitals or insurance companies if it benefits personal healthcare. The next step in the digital transformation of the healthcare industry is identifying and resolving challenges, establishing partnerships, proposing conceptual verification models, and executing pilot programs, thereby creating robust and refined medical services that satisfy patients’ special needs.”