I find it both disturbing and fascinating that amid a pandemic, hospitals are having to lay off workers because they aren’t able to do enough business. You’d think that they’d have more customers than they could deal with, but while that is the case in hotspots, in areas were infections are light, hospitals were having to reduce much of their activity to prevent the spread of the disease.
It is a massive problem with the around 70% of the typical procedures a hospital performs canceled, layoffs that can exceed 75% to remain solvent, margins that are falling off a cliff, 81% of the hospital patients reporting they are unsatisfied with the services they do get, and a massive number of data (41%) of data and analytics challenges they can’t seem to address proactively. Oh, and on top of this, they see as an industry an additional $6.2B loss due to data breaches.
At Microsoft Build this week, they covered the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, and it could substantially improve not only your experience but the financial viability of the entire healthcare system. Used broadly enough, it could reduce medical costs so significantly that universal healthcare might become financially viable while substantially improving the patent experience and driving far higher customer satisfaction scores.
This solution appears to be extremely comprehensive. Parts of this solution are being used by the CDC to provide enhanced digital triage using a bot to screen potentially infected patients. Saint Luke’s University Health System is using it to do virtual visits, reducing the exposure on medical staff and the load on hospital resources. And a Swedish Hospital is using it for COVID-19 operations for things like resource management for both rooms and people.
The solution provides end to end security, a full compliance model to assure the hospital isn’t put in legal jeopardy, and, most important, data access. This last has been one of the most difficult to fix.
Fixing Data Access
One of the big problems with finding effective treatment timely is that the systems that contain health data don’t talk to each other. This problem is because many of these are custom; the laws surrounding medical data make it very difficult to share at all, let alone share it timely, and the format of the data isn’t very consistent, making doing broad searches almost impossible.
This data consistency problem is a great deal of the solutions, providing a secure and compliant way for medical professionals to search across repositories to find critical information about a patient’s history, available and likely cures, and even research work or trials that may save the patient’s life.
And while it has long been believed that an AI implementation would massively improve healthcare results. AIs struggle with inconsistent data sets and particular inconsistent indexing so that even if a hospital implemented one. It would likely be significantly hampered by its inability to scan and search through even the majority of data now available to it, let alone the data that it is currently prevented from accessing.
Providence General Hospital
One of the more interesting examples of using Microsoft’s medical solutions was from Providence General hospital and how they were using the Bott named Grace. This Bott has been used to assess 150K patents, and it has handled 3.2M messages from early March till now. This solution is being used worldwide to help address around 13K tele-visits a day, assisting patents to and medical personnel safely both deal with medical problems and stay safe during this pandemic. It has been deployed across 1,500 sites, and it has helped 32M people effectively and inexpensively get care during the Pandemic event.
A powerful example of an AI being used to mitigate COVID-19 problems.
The Pandemic event is causing a lot of industries to rethink how they do business. Healthcare is both at the forefront of the defense and collateral damage as income sources dry up and operating costs surge. Orgainzations that include Humana, Novartis, Kaiser Permanente, Walgreens Boots Alliance, Nuance, and the CDC are working with Microsoft and their Cloud For Healthcare effort to improve care while significantly cutting costs vastly.
This solution is one of those efforts that not only could help save lives; it could significantly reduce both the personal and governmental costs associated with this Pandemic event. We are only the early days for this solution, and we are still in the early days of the COVID-19 event. Still, many may eventually owe our lives to this making it arguably one of the most essential efforts Microsoft has ever undertaken.