Microsoft Data Collaboration Targets Improved Health Access | Healthcare of Tomorrow

New data technology can help curb preventable harm and improve health treatment in underserved communities – and Microsoft is among the tech companies partnering with health organizations to make that new system a reality.

Too many medical devices are “clunky and clumsy” because they do not integrate and share necessary data with other networks, said Dr. Peter Pronovost on Monday during the U.S. News Hospital of Tomorrow conference. That makes it harder for people to get the care they need or report poor treatment, said Pronovost, director of the Armstrong Institute for Patient Safety and Quality at Johns Hopkins Medicine.

“Medical harm leads preventable harm as the third-leading cause of death,” he said, citing the huge costs for patients who spend on treatments that don’t help recovery.

“Health care is the only industry that invests heavily in technology but gets negative productivity,” Pronovost said. “In every other industry, the users [not vendors] say what they need.”

To address these concerns more collaboration is needed between technology firms and the health industry to make use of an increasingly Wi-Fi-connected consumer with software that can integrate with mobile devices and cloud computer databases, said James Weinstein, president of the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System.

“You need to have a value-based strategy, not a volume-based strategy,” Weinstein said.

With that in mind, Johns Hopkins and Dartmouth are partnering with Microsoft to develop new health technology solutions. Michael Robinson, vice president for Microsoft’s U.S. Health and Life Sciences business, called health technology “clearly aligned” with the evolution of the tech giant, which has embraced a mobile-first, cloud-first strategy.

“Health care is a more than $4 billion business for us globally,” he said. “About 60 percent of that is in the U.S.”

Weinstein highlighted the creation of the ImagineCare software network with Microsoft – a “sustainable health system” with solutions including personalized health plans to keep people from getting sick and out of the hospital.

Dartmouth collects patient data using the ImagineCare software and delivers it back to patient families, who can then use Microsoft’s Cortana personal assistant to help assess whether the patient viewed the treatment as useful, explained Ethan Berke, a medical director at Dartmouth’s academic medical center.

“We want people to stay involved in their health care,” Berke said, citing the use of fitness sensors that can send ImagineCare data about a body’s vital signs to monitor how a treatment is progressing.

“We can send out alerts to the patients,” he said. “If a patient takes a blood pressure reading and it’s normal, we will send a message that says ‘great job, how is that diet going?'”

Too often in primary and public medical care the focus is not put on the patient, so the ImagineCare software is built on customer relations software – not electronic medical records format, he said.

The ImagineCare program shows it is possible to for technology and healthcare organizations to share information about patients to make treatment more effective while still observing federal medical privacy regulations, Berke said.

“We’re comfortable giving information when we feel we are getting something valuable in return,” he explained.