Microsoft Azure for Industry Podcast

The Current and Future States of Healthcare with Microsoft’s Leading Experts – Part 1

Episode Summary

Microsoft for Healthcare is working hard to help healthcare throughout the COVID-19 crisis and to plan for what comes after the pandemic. Our guests discuss how Microsoft is responding to the current COVID-19 crisis as well as their mission in healthcare and the future of the industry.

Episode Notes

Microsoft for Healthcare is working hard to help healthcare throughout the COVID-19 crisis and to plan for what comes after the pandemic. Our guests discuss how Microsoft is responding to the current COVID-19 crisis as well as their mission in healthcare and the future of the industry.

Our guests describe how they work with partners to find the right capabilities enabled by Microsoft solutions. Additionally, we discuss several Microsoft healthcare-focused products in use today. Learn how Microsoft technologies are being used to solve real world problems related not only to the current pandemic, but other important healthcare problems.

The panel discusses the partnerships occurring between competitors to combat COVID-19. Learn about Microsoft partner solutions available to help "flatten the curve" during this crisis.

Transcript

Show Notes

Microsoft’s Covid-19 Response

Supporting your healthcare organization and community during crises

 

Artificial Intelligence in Healthcare
Uses of AI for health include the work to fight COVID-19 is already underway. A handful of key partnerships include the following.

The  COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, a private-public effort spearheaded by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, for which Microsoft is providing researchers access to the world’s most powerful computing resources, which can significantly speed the pace of scientific discovery in the fight to stop the virus. Around the world, Microsoft’s research scientists, spanning computer science, biology, medicine and public health, are collaborating on projects in the consortium

The Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME), a global health research organization at the University of Washington School of Medicine, is releasing a set of COVID-19 data visualizations and forecasts that the White House, FEMA, governors and hospital administrators have started using to mobilize resources

The Washington State Department of Health is working on a new dashboard that aims to increase timeliness, accuracy and speed of data reporting to the public. The dashboard relies on data reported by local health jurisdictions, healthcare facilities and labs

Folding@home, a global organization that uses distributed computing is researching COVID-19 proteins that could help with designing therapeutics

The Sepsis Center of Research Excellence (SCORE-UW), part of the University of Washington’s Department of Medicine, is a global collaboration between a network of hospitals, industry, blood banks, universities and funding partners. Using clinical data, radiologic imaging and other patient biomarker responses, SCORE-UW is developing novel algorithms to predict, and improve, healthcare and socioeconomic outcomes of COVID-19 positive patients

Take, the Brazilian leader in chatbots and the smart contacts market, developed a bot to bring official and credible information to the public and connect potential patients to medical teams to avoid overloading Brazilian hospitals

Guests

Gareth Hall

Senior Director - Microsoft WorldWide Health Solutions

Gareth leads the team driving the worldwide solutions strategy for the Microsoft Health business, focused on working with Microsoft product teams and partners to build solutions on the Microsoft cloud platforms (Azure, Dynamics 365 and Office 365).

LinkedIn

John Doyle

Director, Cloud & AI, Microsoft Healthcare

As a Director within the worldwide commercial business industry team at Microsoft, John Doyle is responsible for the development of business strategy and partnerships across the healthcare industry, globally. John, engages with industry customers and partners, developing strategies and repeatable technology solutions that harness the power of cloud and AI to drive innovation and industry transformation.

LinkedIn

David Houlding

David is the Director of Healthcare experiences on Microsoft Industry Experiences team. He has extensive experience in working with partners for healthcare in applicable technologies, most lately the cloud, blockchain, and AI.

LinkedIn
Twitter

Episode Transcription

David Starr:

Welcome to the Azure for industry podcast. We're your hosts David Starr and Paul Maher. In this podcast, you hear from thought leaders across various industries discussing technology trends and innovation, sharing how Azure is helping transform business. You'll also hear directly from Microsoft thought leaders on how our products and services are meeting industries continually evolving needs.

David Starr:

This is David Starr and I want to welcome several people to this show, starting with Paul Maher. Paul is the General Manager of Industry Experiences team, which is part of the Cloud & AI engineering organization at Microsoft. Paul's team works with partners to onboard their solutions to the Microsoft commercial marketplace. Welcome Paul.

Paul Maher:

Thanks a lot David. Great to be here.

David Starr:

And David Houlding. David is the director of healthcare experiences on the Microsoft Industry Experiences team. He has extensive experience in working with partners for healthcare in all applicable technologies. Most lately, cloud of course, blockchain and AI. Hi David, welcome to the show.

David Houlding:

Hi, great to be here. Thanks David.

David Starr:

And now welcome John Doyle, who's the Director of Cloud & AI for Microsoft Healthcare. John engages with healthcare customers and partners, developing strategies and repeatable technology solutions that harness the power of the cloud and AI to drive innovation and industry transformation. Welcome to the show, John. It's good to have you.

John Doyle:

Thank you, David. I'm excited to be here.

David Starr:

And finally in our panel we have Gareth Hall, Senior Director of Worldwide Health Solutions. Gareth leads the team delivering the Worldwide Solutions strategy for the Microsoft Healthcare business. He focuses on working with Microsoft product teams and partners to build solutions on the Microsoft cloud platforms, Azure, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft 365. Gareth, great to have you.

Gareth Hall:

Thanks Dave. I'm really pleased to be here and you can never have enough British people on a podcast.

David Starr:

That's true. Now everyone on the show besides myself and David Houlding are Brits, and that's going to be a new one for us. That's one. Well, Gareth, we start with you. And I'd like to ask as a proven thought leader, obviously in healthcare and in leadership at Microsoft, what's got your attention in the industry right now?

Gareth Hall:

You might expect me to immediately say customer response to the COVID crisis. And absolutely, we are spending as much time as we possibly can helping our customers cope with the current conditions that they're dealing with. But the thing that we found actually really reassuring is the technologies that we've been building for the industry over several years actually, are proving to be valuable in the way we think about the industry and the way we're helping our customers accelerate their transformation in the industry has just got faster and faster and faster. So it's kind of, what can we do in Microsoft from a point of view today to help them cope with the current conditions and the situation they're dealing with? But how can we also continue to align that for the future so that as they develop and respond to the initial issues, how can they then use that and transform the healthcare industry with technology and to drive patient value and patient outcomes? And actually that balance is changing very, very quickly, week by week and day by day from all kinds of crisis management a few weeks ago to, I don't know, 50/50 on crisis management and transforming for the future to enable them to drive their business and their outcomes better going forward, and potentially to respond to better to any crises that happen in the future.

David Starr:

That's interesting. So you're seeing people split their efforts between immediate response to now and potential future response.

Gareth Hall:

Yeah, it's interesting. It's a geographical conversation. We all know how the crisis around the world has caused a kind of a timeline. Customers that entered that situation early, like Providence here in Washington State, used a number of our technologies to deal with the initial outbreaks that were sort of the first ones in the U.S. And we're now talking to Providence around the next steps, which is kind of how do you emerge from that initial state and how did you prepare yourself for the transformation that you just need to do is as a healthcare organization anyway. And to prepare yourself for it in case you need to deal with a future crisis, which frankly in healthcare we all know we're going to have to deal with it at some point. And it's been really interesting as we talk and work with customers and partners across both the States and the world, you can spot a timeline, almost a kind of a maturity model of where the customer is in its current condition.

Gareth Hall:

And the way we help and help them think about navigating what state they own, in that condition, varies with timeline and where they are on that status. But it has been, I said it earlier but I'll kind of repeat it because it's been really interesting, the things we've been doing that the engineering approaches, the partners we work with, the solutions and problems we're trying to solve are the same things we've always been trying to solve across the industry. They're just dramatically more focused now, which is obviously societally challenging. But from a strategy point of view from a technology vendor is reassuring that we've made the right investments, that our partners are doing amazing things in the right areas. We're just all coalescing and helping deal with conditions to enable that longer term transformation by dealing with things in the short term.

David Starr:

And I'll turn it around and ask John. John, what's top of mind for you in your responsibilities with Microsoft and thinking ahead to what's happening with the situation?

John Doyle:

Well, it's really interesting actually. And building on to some of the points that Gareth had made already, that the thing that has really surprised me is just how quickly people have come together to work in collaboration in order to address the here and now. How do organizations around the world respond to the crisis and what can we do with our partners and our customers to actually help them during this time? As we think about how the world continues to respond to the outbreak, we need to be mindful of where they are in their journey. As Gareth mentioned, every organization around the world is going through change regardless of the industry. I think the industry of healthcare is probably the first industry that comes to mind when we start thinking about the impacts because obviously those workers that are working in the industry are doing their best.

John Doyle:

They're having to go to work, where a lot of organizations have been forced to work from home. Healthcare workers effectively go into work and risk their lives everyday. And really what can we do as an industry and in partnership to actually help them through those challenges? So I think, top of mind for me right now, is to how do we connect all of the different parts of our company together? How do we work in collaboration with our partners that are industry-focused as well as cross industry? And how do we bring our best to support those people that are on the front lines of health care? So for me right now that's the core focus.

Paul Maher:

So Hey, Gareth and John. Great opening discussion and I know we're going to dig in a little deeper as we move on. But I'm just picking up on kind of your points about, sort of the really as we think about the need to transform given kind of the current situation, which is sort of building on, I think historically, we've talked about potential opportunity for new innovation as we think about the future of healthcare using technology. Could you share a little bit on some of the technologies that are sort of helping in the current situation that are point of mind and really enabling.

Gareth Hall:

Why don't I quickly talk about how we think about the industry from a Microsoft point of view and then we can dovetail with technologies in, because I think it's important to sort of frame this. And that's my earlier point, the framing is still very, very relevant. It's just the pace of change and the technology and the speed at which you use those technologies has changed. So we broadly think and work with the market and the industry around how do you enable personalized care, how do you empower your care teams, how do you improve operational and clinical outcomes, and how do you protect the healthcare information and drive security and compliance, which is obviously critical in this industry. All of those areas are key focus areas today and tomorrow. The skill and I think that our customers and partners are recognizing is that when you work with technology, actually not every single answer is the same depending on the customer or the partner.

Gareth Hall:

So the fact that Microsoft's got a portfolio of products and solutions and cloud capabilities across this whole spectrum of requirements, lets you kind of mix and match. So we have some partners for example, who might think about a telehealth solution and using our team's collaborative platform. Makes sense, you can see the direct connection. And we've seen kind of collaboration inside healthcare organization using teams dramatically increase over the last few months and also organizations using it specifically for virtual visits like St. Luke's over on the East coast of the U.S. But you could also, for example, use Azure as an incredibly powerful environment. And we have a number of telehealth vendors who build their whole platform on top of Azure and it delivers the scheduling and the billing and the virtual visit experience in Azure. I think that's a hugely powerful ability for us to say, "Hey, Mr. Customer, Mr. Partner, we've got technologies and capabilities. Let's work with you to choose the right ones that make sense for you, not force you down some sort of technology bottleneck that fits our capabilities but doesn't necessarily fit your requirements." Does that make sense, Paul, as an approach?

John Doyle:

Yeah. And Gareth, just to add to your comments there, and Paul, to answer your question sort of more specifically what we're starting to see now from customers is a common set of themes or trends by which they're implementing technology. So for example, one of the first things that organizations have been trying to do is get a handle on those people that could be infected. And we like to think about that in terms of citizen and patient outreach. And then as you outreach to the citizens and patients, how do you help them triage through that process. So one of the technologies that our team developed a while ago was the Microsoft Healthcare bot, which is the ability for effectively a customer, a citizen, a consumer to effectively walk through and self triage to identify whether they have symptoms related to the virus. And if they do, how do we put them into a process that enables them to actually seek care?

John Doyle:

And you can start to see a pattern where you effectively triage somebody into the system. To Gareth's point, you then enable them to access virtual health. And that could be a telemedicine consultation with a doctor using something like teams. For those healthcare workers, we also have a responsibility to help them to identify for example, where the best resources are, how do they access PPE and are there tools and services that we can provide to make that more streamlined? How do we help organizations donate, for example, PPE to a healthcare organization and how do we manage and track that through the system? Then how do we effectively deliver and manage this concept of continuous care, while that person's family is actually dealing with the crisis? And then probably the last piece which I think is really interesting and I think where the cloud can play a major role, is in the dissemination of accurate health information. You might have seen and you might be aware that on Bing, we posted the ability to effectively identify where, based on open datasets, where all the cases are. So you can see in your local area and find that information.

John Doyle:

But we also, in partnership with a number of other organizations are effectively working on an open research dataset called CORD-19, to allow people access to curated information that's trusted, to allow organizations to then build on top of that. And you'll see a lot of organizations using some of the mapping features that we have inside of Azure to actually create localization maps to identify people in vulnerable communities to effectively ensure that they're providing the right level of attention and focus to that community. So there's a whole series of themes that we're starting to see. And as Gareth pointed out, our customers are in a different journey depending on where they are in the crisis and different tools are being used and implemented based on their demands right now. And our job really as Microsoft is to bring the best of our partners together to help them sort of accelerate, to Gareth's point earlier on, that we're seeing transformation happen faster in healthcare right now because the need is just much more urgent than it was before.

Paul Maher:

That's awesome guys. And the great thing for me just listening here and I'm sure for the listeners is sort of really technology helping solve real world problems. And I think that's kind of the prominent that resonates when I listened to the stories. And the other thing I would share is, I know that there's been a lot of cross teaming happening across sort of Microsoft globally, working sort of externally. So kind of kudos to everyone involved, I think sort of coming together quickly to be able to sort of really address the obvious kind of needs at this moment in time. That's a great discussion.

David Starr:

And now let's take a moment out to listen to this very important message.

 

Did you know the Microsoft commercial marketplace allows you to find and purchase leading Microsoft certified solutions for Microsoft partners. The Microsoft commercial marketplace includes the Microsoft app source and Azure marketplace. Each storefront serves unique customer requirements and different target audiences so publishers can ensure solutions are available to the right customers. For applications that integrate with Microsoft 365 products, visit appsource.microsoft.com. Get solutions tailored to your industry that work with the products you already use. For B2B as your base solutions, visit azuremarketplace.microsoft.com. Here you can discover, try and deploy the cloud software solutions you want.

David Starr:

So we've touched on some of the technologies that are helping and some of the ways that you guys are working with partners to help them choose the right technology solutions to help with their offers. So John, what are some technologies and innovations within those tech that you've seen partners coming to market with are really helping with this COVID-19 situation?

John Doyle:

Yeah, so let's start where I began really in this concept of sort of the patient outreach and triage. So I mentioned earlier on that we, as Microsoft, developed a set of technologies, combine them together. So leverage things like the bot framework. We've configured them specifically for use in-house and there's a number of scenarios that we've mapped out that align to how our customer might respond, and actually import the guidelines from people like the CDC as an example. And we have a whole series of partners that have gone through the training for that service and now effectively publish a set of solutions to our customers to accelerate their ability to effectively deliver those solutions. So one example to call out would be Avanade. Avanade, which hopefully most of the listeners will be familiar with, are a very large organization and they help customers across a whole plethora of scenarios. But Avanade are a really great sort of forward thinking organization that are actually helping our customers to deploy bot technology, actually helped to do that first sort of phase of triage.

David Starr:

And you're talking about a health bot that is more than general purpose, but one that actually focuses on the symptoms and care for COVID-19, yeah?

John Doyle:

That's correct. So the team inside of Microsoft have worked with organizations like the CDC to actually configure the bot technology to enable a citizen, a consumer or patient to effectively go through the guidelines and effectively triaged themselves to do that initial symptom assessment to determine whether they do have symptoms for COVID-19. And if they do, what are the next logical steps? How do they reach out to their healthcare provider and what services do they reach out for?

Gareth Hall:

Actually what John highlights there is just the amazing efforts that our partners have stepped up to really help. And I think that's been one of the most interesting things during the last few months is a kind of breaking down of barriers both internally in Microsoft, with our partners, with our customers. And we're seeing not only a huge number of partners and customers deploying and managing and using the technologies that John outlined to make a business impact in their day jobs, we're also seeing completely different sets of groups of organizations working together. So for example, and then John mentioned earlier about kind of how do you make sure that you're delivering personal protective equipment to your employees to keep them safe during times like this. We've got organizations like the American Hospital Association, with Kaiser, with A.T. Kearney, with MeritOne, who are an amazing dynamic software ISV that we worked with, with UPS for delivery. Put all of those people together, you can build this kind of really interesting, I guess think of it as a marketplace for donations. So people donate things to their local organizations and other organizations need them.

Gareth Hall:

It's a great role for technology to sit in as an intermediary and say, "I'm a broker, I've got 50,000 masks over here and I've got a hospital that needs 30,000 masks over here." Right, let's manage that process and drive that really, really interesting use of technology. But actually a more interesting use of people and organizations that have connected together to use a platform underneath that's quick to build on and made available at the right cost during a crisis, all those sort of good things. But that business connection of people trying to work together to make a genuine difference to our customers, it's actually been really, really cool. I've been a healthcare guy my whole life and I have never seen the barriers be broken down like they have over the last few months. We've got direct competitors working with each other to solve customer's crisis and to help improve patient lives. That's really cool. How can we as a technology vendor continue to support that, continue to bring organizations together to make a difference and keep driving that impact?

David Houlding:

Gareth, those are great points and the people are key for sure, the healthcare professionals, the family caregivers, the patients, etc. There's the platform's like Azure and Dynamics 365 that are powering these solutions. There's also the marketplace, right? The Azure marketplace that enables the deployment of these solutions worldwide, rapidly. And so I just add on the COVID-19 solutions and services from key healthcare partners. We've also seen patient assessments, where patients go in, they suspect they might have COVID-19, they can take an assessment, gives much more useful information, powers analytics that can give a much more objective insight. Healthcare NLP, right? We've got this wave of COVID-19 coming through. It's going to generate a wave of data. A lot of that data is unstructured. To really make sense of that data, we need NLP, right?

David Houlding:

So we've got partners doing healthcare NLP to turn that data into structured data, to power analytics so we can get actionable insights and healthcare professionals can to empower them to make better decisions, to improve patient outcomes, for sure. But also reduce healthcare costs, improve patient engagement and experiences, and even improve the experiences of healthcare professionals, right? We've seen a lot of professionals working long hours, seven days a week through COVID-19 and there's a real risk of burnout. So that's a big factor as well. But remote patient monitoring, another class of solutions. We've got all kinds of people sheltering in place at home and they still need care. So remote patient monitoring, a wonderful tool. Telemedicine, telehealth, the ability to reach patients wherever they are. I think this whole COVID-19 experience, it's not just for COVID-19. I think this has really highlighted the opportunity for remote patient monitoring as a key element of our healthcare going forward.

David Houlding:

There's thermal screening, think infrared cameras that are monitoring entrances to hospitals or monitoring hallways in hospitals, looking for patients or healthcare professionals that have a fever, alerting, being able to quarantine, etc. Patient monitoring, also think cameras, not necessarily infrared, but cameras in various settings being able to monitor patients at scale, securely, privately, from a nurse's station. Better analytics in AI to provide actionable insights, enable better resource allocation. Whether it's healthcare professionals needed in a given hospital or healthcare setting, whether it's medical devices such as ventilators, whether it's a PPE, etc. There's all kinds of solutions that are available to help COVID-19. And the way to rapidly procure provision and deploy these, marketplace has provided a wonderful tool for that. Many of our key healthcare partners have published offers on our marketplace that enable the acquisition of these solutions quickly, worldwide.

Gareth Hall:

Yeah, David, and I think that's a really great point. And I think one of the things that we're starting to see now, we need to be conscious of, is not to overwhelm these healthcare organizations with a plethora of solutions. I think we have a responsibility with our partners to package these into a workflow so customers can understand, at what point should they implement which technology and for what purpose. And what is the outcome that we're trying to drive? What is the benefit that we're trying to drive? Is trying to flatten the curve of the crisis, is this trying to better help an organization to manage their resources more efficiently during the crisis? Or is this actually helping them to ready themselves for what comes next, stabilizing their healthcare operations so they can start to slowly reintroduce things like elective treatment.

Gareth Hall:

So we need to be really mindful, not to just talk about lots of different solutions and scenarios. I think we need to try and package them in such a way that a customer can choose the right partners, the right solutions, based on where they are in their journey. Because I always like to think about the sort of three core stages to how we think about our response and our responsibility. The first is how do we help organizations during this sort of response phase? How do we help them to respond to the crisis? What are the tools and the solutions to help them to take control, to get back in control? How do they build, for example, a command center to manage their operations efficiently. And as they do that, as they transition into the second phase, which is how do they stabilize now this new critical infrastructure that they've built up to respond to the crisis.

Gareth Hall:

You mentioned earlier, David, this concept of organizations are leveraging now virtual health to deliver new scenarios. One of the ones that I think will be really important moving forward is how do we actually provide behavioral health, not just to those that work inside of the healthcare industry but for all of those people that are now are effectively working from home? How do we provide the outreach and supports? And we have partners that actually have solutions like Teladoc for behavioral health. And then as we think about the longer term, as people return to work, how do we help them to reimagine what that next phase will look like, the new normal? And what are the scenarios and the opportunities that our customers are going to need to solve for moving forward? And how do we put that into that sort of workflow and scenario so we build that structure around the crisis, rather than just being super reactive.

David Starr:

This is such a great conversation. We're going to continue it in our next episode. Check back soon for part two of this conversation on digital healthcare at Microsoft.

David Starr:

Thank you for joining us for this episode of the Azure for Industry podcast, the show that explores how industry experts are transforming our world with Azure. For show topic recommendations or other feedback, reach out to us at industrypodcast@microsoft.com.