Microsoft deepens its healthcare presence: A timeline of the past year

In the past year, Microsoft has grown its healthcare presence with the launch of its healthcare cloud offering and partnerships with industry players such as Humana and Nuance.

Here's a breakdown of Microsoft's healthcare ventures, acquisitions, product developments, partnerships and hiring trends reported by Becker's Hospital Review. The timeline includes Microsoft's healthcare moves since June 2019.

June 7, 2019: Microsoft forms an artificial intelligence "Innovation Digital Alliance" with the city of Louisville, providing support to local healthcare and manufacturing industries as they implement AI and other advanced technologies.

July 8, 2019: Renton, Wash.-based Providence enters into a multiyear partnership with Microsoft, implementing its cloud platform Azure as well as AI tools to help manage the health system's electronic health data.

July 9, 2019: CNBC reports that Providence and Microsoft are in the early stages of building a high-tech hospital in the Seattle area, close to the tech giant's headquarters. The goal of the new facility, which Providence CEO Rod Hochman referred to as "hospital of the future," is to improve its EHR system so physicians, nurses and other providers can find information more easily.

July 23, 2019: Microsoft invests $1 billion in a partnership with OpenAI, a San Francisco-based company co-founded by Elon Musk to develop artificial general intelligence. The companies' goal is to build supercomputing software to address global health and education issues such as climate change.

Aug. 13, 2019: Microsoft names David Rhew, MD, an adjunct primary care and population health professor at Stanford (Calif.) University School of Medicine, as its new CMO and vice president of healthcare. Previously, Dr. Rhew served as CMO and vice president for enterprise healthcare at Samsung.

Sept. 6, 2019: Northwell Health begins rolling out Microsoft Teams cloud-based communication platform for secure messaging between clinicians at the New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based health system.

Sept. 6, 2019: Microsoft and AstraZeneca launch the AI Factory for Health, an accelerator program for early-stage companies using AI to address issues in healthcare.

Sept. 19, 2019: Microsoft nominates Emma Walmsley, CEO of vaccine and medicine development company GlaxoSmithKline, to join its board of directors.

Oct. 1, 2019: Novartis taps Microsoft to help establish an AI innovation lab, which researchers will combine Microsoft's AI technology and Novartis' life sciences expertise to accelerate the development of new medicines.

Oct. 17, 2019: Microsoft and Nuance team up to create the "exam room of the future" using AI and other technologies. Under the agreement, Nuance will integrate its speech recognition and processing solutions with Microsoft Azure and Azure AI. The goal of the partnership is to build a tool that allows clinical documentation to write itself, giving physicians more time to focus on patient care rather than administrative tasks.

Oct. 21, 2019: Microsoft and Humana ink a seven-year partnership to build modern healthcare solutions for Humana members, such as natural language understanding and speech recognition capabilities for clinical software and workflows. The health insurer also transitions its data to Microsoft Azure.

Oct. 27, 2019: As part of Microsoft's Project Hanover, biomedical researchers from the Bar Harbor, Maine-based Jackson Laboratory refine an AI tool that "reads" medical documents to inform the development of precision cancer treatments.

Oct. 29, 2019: CB Insights reports that Microsoft, Google and Tencent are collectively responsible for more than 70 percent of the investment deals the top 10 large tech companies are making into digital health startups. Microsoft has also shifted in recent years to focus on genomics, according to the report, with a significant portion of its investments also going to startups developing data management and analytics solutions. 

Oct. 30, 2019: The University of South Florida's USF Health Morsani College of Medicine in Tampa announces the creation of the first Medical School of Innovation, in partnership with Microsoft.

Dec. 10, 2019: Microsoft and New Brunswick, N.J.-based Rutgers medical school launch a jointly developed mobile application that aims to prevent sudden infant death syndrome.

Jan. 20, 2020: The Wall Street Journal reports that Microsoft, along with tech giants including Amazon and IBM, have been partnering with hospitals and health systems to analyze patients' medical records in order to develop new solutions. Providence signed an agreement with Microsoft that allows the health system to share a limited amount of patient data that has been stripped of personally identifiable information. Microsoft plans to use the data to develop cancer algorithms.

Jan. 27: Microsoft Healthcare Corporate Vice President Peter Lee tells CNBC he supports HHS' proposed interoperability rules, which would allow medical records to be accessed through application program interfaces and third-party apps.

Jan. 29: Business Insider reports that Walgreens is opening its first "health corners" in 12 pharmacies in Tennessee after striking a partnership with Microsoft in 2019. The pilot sites will feature two clinic-like rooms, where patients can meet with a pharmacist to discuss medications and health-tech devices. As part of the partnership, Microsoft manages Walgreens' data storage, and the pharmacy chain leverages Microsoft's AI platform and retail solutions. 

Jan. 29: Microsoft unveils AI for Health, a $40 million program that supports the use of AI technologies to advance medical research and solve global health issues.

Jan. 30: Microsoft is among a group of nearly 30 healthcare organizations and IT companies to send a letter to HHS and the Office of Management and Budget urging officials to swiftly release the finalized version of HHS' interoperability rules.

Feb. 12: The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs announces its new partnerships with Microsoft, Verizon and Medvis to support the agency's efforts to deploy its first 5G-enabled clinical care system at the VA Palo Alto (Calif.) Health Care System.

Feb. 14: Microsoft's M12 venture fund joins a $70 million Series C financing round for healthcare data startup Innovaccer. Innovaccer's platform, which is used by healthcare provider clients such as Hartford (Conn.) HealthCare and counts Microsoft and Amazon Web Services as partners, organizes data from EHRs, medical claims and lab systems to provide hospitals, ACOs and other healthcare organizations with a comprehensive, unified patient record.

Feb. 24: Microsoft and Nuance make its jointly developed AI software, which listens to patient-physician conversations and automatically compiles them into coherent reports, available to the general market.

March 6: Microsoft launches several new tech solutions to improve hospital and health systems' scheduling, cybersecurity, telehealth and data analytics capabilities. The new tools and updates include a Bookings app within the Microsoft Teams communication platform, which allows care teams to schedule and conduct virtual visits.

March 9: Microsoft, along with Amazon, pledges $1 million to a COVID-19 Response Fund in Washington's Puget Sound region. The fund provides financial support to nonprofits and community-based organizations addressing COVID-19 in Washington.

March 11: Microsoft, Amazon, Google and Apple representatives, among other tech giants, meet at the White House to discuss ways to prevent further spread of disinformation about the novel coronavirus.

March 11: CNBC reports that Microsoft named Eric Horvitz its first chief scientific officer. Mr. Horvitz joined Microsoft in 1993 and also co-chairs the Artificial Intelligence and Ethics in Engineering and Research committee at the company.

March 12: Norfolk, Va.-based Sentara Healthcare announces it has built and deployed an enterprise data platform on Microsoft Azure that gives the organization a unified view of its own patient data and that of subsidiary Optima Health Plan.

March 20: Microsoft and Adaptive Biotechnologies announce an expansion of their longstanding partnership to map out immune responses to COVID-19 in hopes of accelerating development of a vaccine.

March 20: CDC launches its "Coronavirus Self-Checker" chatbot, built by Microsoft, to guide Americans who may have COVID-19 to appropriate medical care.

March 26: Microsoft is a founding member of the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute, an AI consortium that will offer nearly $6 million in funding and resources for researchers using AI and data analytics to address and slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic.

April 1: Seattle-based Swedish Health Services taps Microsoft to develop an app for hospital workers to use to view and report real-time data on COVID-19 patient volumes, personal protective equipment and other critical information.

April 9: Microsoft pledges $20 million to support COVID-19 data and research initiatives from institutions including University of Washington School of Medicine and the Washington State Department of Health.

April 22: CNBC reports Microsoft appointed former CEO of GE Healthcare's imaging business Tom McGuiness as its new corporate vice president for healthcare.

May 11: Microsoft partners with Adaptive Biotechnologies to launch an initiative to map and measure immune response to the COVID-19 virus in an effort to improve diagnostics and accelerate reliable testing.

May 18: Microsoft and UnitedHealth Group release a new return-to-workplace protocol and COVID-19 symptom screening tool within an app for organizations returning employees from remote work.

May 19: Microsoft announces its first industry-specific cloud offering targeted for healthcare. Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare offers healthcare organizations a bundle of the tech giant's solutions, including Azure cloud platform and the telecommunication platform Teams. 

June 16: Microsoft hires Dr. Junaid Bajwa as its chief medical scientist. Before joining Microsoft, Dr. Bajwa was a practicing physician in the United Kingdom's National Health Service and led the Strategic Alliance and Solutions for Global Digital Centre of Excellence at Merck Sharp & Dohme.

June 18: Johns Hopkins Medicine announces a new five-year partnership with Microsoft Azure as part of the Baltimore-based health system's precision medicine initiative, InHealth. 

More articles on health IT: 
FDA joins partnership on COVID-19 analytics tool
Uber Health to provide medical transportation for Medicare Advantage members
Optum leads $26M funding round for digital therapeutics startup

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