Microsoft offers glimpse into healthcare offerings in a digital-first workforce

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Satya Nadella, CEO and chair of Microsoft, unveiled the tech company's 10-year plan for its metaverse and digital innovation at Microsoft's virtual 2021 developer conference, according to information shared at the conference Nov. 2.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated digital transformation, and Mr. Nadella said Microsoft will make many of the changes it applied to Microsoft Azure during the pandemic into permanent features. Looking ahead, the tech company expects to deploy several digital tools personalized for industries such as healthcare.

Six notes:

1. "Looking back, there is no question that the past year and a half has been a catalyst for real structural change across every industry from adoption of telehealth and healthcare, digital wallets in financial services, curbside pickup, contactless shopping in retail and much beyond," Mr. Nadella said.

2. Microsoft's cloud for healthcare will integrate app innovation, tools for modern work, infrastructure, data analytics, security and artificial intelligence.

3. After a string of data breaches affecting Microsoft's cloud platform, the company is deploying comprehensive tools across compliance, identity, privacy and management, Mr. Nadella said.

"Cybersecurity is the biggest threat to digital transformation today, and it's the No. 1 risk facing every business going forward," he said.

4. The company is rapidly incorporating digital health into its cloud capabilities. On Oct. 19, Microsoft unveiled several capabilities for virtual healthcare visits, which can be used through Epic and Cerner EHR. The tool allows patients and clinicians to launch telehealth visits through the Microsoft Teams EHR connector. 

5. Microsoft and telehealth provider Babylon said Oct. 18 that they are partnering to enhance artificial intelligence's use in preventive healthcare. The organizations will use AI and cloud computing to explore opportunities to increase their health IT offerings. For the initial step in the collaboration, Babylon's digital health offerings will be added to the Microsoft Azure Marketplace.

"This collaboration will allow us to build on our existing capabilities so we can proactively support patients through the devices they already own and shift the focus from reactive to proactive healthcare," said Tom McGuinness, corporate vice president of global healthcare and life sciences at Microsoft.

6. On Nov. 1, Microsoft integrated the Merck Manuals' digital medical reference for healthcare professionals and consumers in Microsoft Teams. The manual will allow readers to readily obtain reliable health information as well as to search entries on hundreds of diseases.

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