Tuesday, May 24, 2022

Microsoft Releases Azure Health Data Services

REDMOND, Wash. — Microsoft is introducing a platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering for health care organizations to unify and manage protected health information (PHI) in the cloud.

Microsoft released Azure Health Data Services as well as updates to its Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare software, according to Microsoft this month.

Azure Health Data Services is intended to address health data interoperability and provide a holistic view of the patient by unifying clinical, imaging, and medtech data.

Microsoft believes much of the “overwhelming amount” of data the health industry generates is unstructured and inaccessible. The data can be used to support better patient care and outcomes, clinical advances, and research breakthroughs.

Azure Health Data Services was developed to provide data interoperability across the entire health ecosystem. It brings together diverse data sets — like clinical, imaging, and streaming data from medical devices — in the cloud — while using the global interoperability standards of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) and Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine (DICOM).

For instance, with Azure Health Data Services, metadata from medical images and medical devices can be read alongside clinical information for better results when a provider or researcher queries patient information.

The service also features a suite of tools for the de-identification and connection of data for compute and analytics to enable “a meaningful impact on medicine and patient care.”

Azure Health Data Services supports an organization’s HIPAA compliance, and data is managed according to applicable regulations, with certifications for ISO, HITRUST, FedRAMP and SOC.

Azure Health Data Services is part of the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare platform, which Microsoft updated.

The improvements are intended to help health care pros in several ways: using artificial intelligence (AI) to give full visibility into data; reduce provider administrative burden; boost productivity for front-line care teams; and increase workflow automation to improve care and reduce clinician burnout.

Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare includes several new features: for virtual appointments Microsoft Teams; enhanced clinical workflow integrations in Teams; enhancements to Azure Health Bot templates; updates to the Patient View; and a preview of the new Patient Insights capability.

The platform also includes text analytics to process and extract insights from unstructured medical data, by transforming unstructured clinical documents into FHIR resource bundles.

“At a time when health care systems are strained to capacity and researchers are racing against the clock, we believe that data and AI hold the keys to a new world of health and discovery for patients, clinicians, researchers and administrators,” said Tom McGuinness, corporate VP of global health care and life sciences, Microsoft.

“Microsoft is bringing together the solutions the industry needs in a cohesive way.”

Matthew Kull, CIO at Cleveland Clinic, said he believes Azure HEalth Data Services will “play a critical role between various systems, allowing us to take data from health records and other data sources and combine it together in a centralized place where it can be used to inform and deliver patient-centric care.”

“It also can enable real-time complex deep learning — by normalizing data from different systems in a way that allows complex algorithmic analyses to occur via AI or ML — and integrate research-based insights back into a clinical workflow,” Kull said.

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