Microsoft integrates healthcare-specific cloud offering with Cerner EHR

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Dive brief:

  • Microsoft has integrated its healthcare-specific cloud offering with Cerner’s Electronic Health Record, the software giant’s latest integration with a major EHR provider, medical director David Rhew told the HLTH conference on Tuesday.
  • Microsoft launched the service last year, called Cloud for Healthcare, to link its existing products like the Azure cloud platform and the Teams telecommunications platform, which it says will help vendors take virtual tours, care management and patient engagement via applications.
  • Also on Tuesday, the IT company announced new patient engagement capabilities, additional resources for frontline workers and data capabilities in Cloud for Healthcare, it said, in response to customer feedback during COVID-19.

Dive overview:

Healthcare organizations have been rushing to develop their virtual products during the pandemic, looking for digital avenues to stay connected to their patient base and maintain revenue. Microsoft said its customers want to continue accelerating their digital programs to meet the needs of patients and employers, which has resulted in new cloud capabilities, especially in virtual care.

“When the pandemic hit we realized we had to focus on the areas of greatest concern,” said Rhew. “That was clearly an area we started to spend more time on. “

Even as COVID-19 ebbs in the United States, many industry players continue to push for a hybrid model of care connecting digital and physical delivery of care. Gartner predicts that by 2022, about a third of outpatient visits will be virtual, which represents 15% of revenue.

With its health-focused software, Microsoft seeks to capitalize on healthcare organizations looking to invest in long-term virtual care capabilities.

When launched, the Cloud for Healthcare product included Microsoft 365, Dynamics, Power Platform, and Azure to manage patients and staff, deploy resources, and promote data insights, as well as Azure IoT, to upload continuous monitoring data collected by patient medical devices directly to the cloud.

Microsoft has spent the last 17 months or so since the initial offering completing the product. Tuesday’s update includes, for example, a new waiting room where customers can personalize the virtual experience with their own logo, messaging and real-time visit notifications.

Additionally, Microsoft has extended its EHR connection to include Cerner’s EHR, allowing physicians to access the platform without downloading additional software or switching to another portal. Customers already had access in the platform to the tech giant’s other partners within the ecosystem, including Epic, Allscripts, GE Healthcare and Nuance, which can provide more specialized services.

According to Rhew, having an interoperable offering with access to a wide range of partners is key to Microsoft’s healthcare strategy.

“It’s a really essential part of our approach,” said the Marketing Director.

The cloud offering is now more widely available to customers in Europe, Asia and Australia, Microsoft also said Tuesday.

Cloud offerings targeting specific verticals continued to be a major trend among vendors like Microsoft, Google, and Amazon, especially in the data-rich healthcare environment.

In 2019, Walgreens, Providence and Humana entered into data storage agreements with Microsoft; EHR provider Cerner named Amazon Web Services their preferred cloud host; and Mayo Clinic signed a 10-year agreement with Google.

In 2020, Google opened a new office on the main Mayo campus, increasing its investment in the partnership; while hospital giant HCA has also partnered with Google Cloud on a new data analytics platform to support vendor decision making.


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