Microsoft’s foray into healthcare has been misinterpreted by many as a hardware-focused attempted to grow substantial market share in the lucrative surgery and diagnosis markets. But this is all about changing the way we look at healthcare and getting information to whoever is making the best decisions.
Microsoft is building a platform that will enable doctors to store all patient information, including prescriptions, diagnosis, general notes and other confidential information, on the cloud. Naturally, this comes with a significant amount of security risk and requirements specific to every country around the world. In fact, Microsoft is taking on a massive responsibility by tackling this problem.
But why does it matter? If this is about where data is stored, couldn’t the solution raise more problems than the problem itself? And is this really such a big problem?
No, but the issue itself isn’t the point; the opportunity is.
By having patient data in the cloud, it can be accessed by specialists and colleagues from around the world instantly. At the moment, complex diagnosis involves contacting a respected practitioner and asking them to look at a case. Then, after a few days or weeks, a response is received and a discussion can begin. A primary diagnosis may then evolve and other specialists may be engaged in the same fashion. Time and effort are the cost of this process, and time is paid for by the patient.
Microsoft aims to reinvent this by creating an ecosystem where information can be shared and reviewed by dozens of different specialists on a centralised platform. The theory is that part of a doctor’s time will be spent on this platform, researching, learning and contributing to the knowledge base that already exists. Unique cases, specific to a doctor’s specialisation, can also be accessed and commented on, creating a living, breathing diagnosis tool that is continually improving. It’s like having hundreds of doctors looking at a case, without geographical boundaries.
Microsoft hopes this approach will speed up global healthcare innovation and that thousands of patients will benefit from faster and better analysis.