- Humana is entering a seven-year partnership with Microsoft for cloud services with the hope of simplifying navigation of the healthcare system as more baby boomers age into Medicare.
- The Louisville, Kentucky-based payer will use the tech giant's Azure cloud computing, artificial intelligence and other products aimed at helping doctors predict health outcomes and automate some treatments for its beneficiaries, including about four million people in Medicare Advantage plans.
- Humana, which already partners with telehealth vendor Doctor on Demand for virtual primary care visits, will also develop similar services with Microsoft. No financial details were disclosed for the partnership.
With the agreement, Humana will now be able to include information such as social determinants of health in patients' medical records.
With the growing Medicare population, privately-run plans are becoming a popular choice. Humana saw a 15% jump in its Medicare Advantage population last quarter, its largest membership growth in a decade.
The added burden of that population's chronic and long-term care needs means companies across the healthcare system are scrambling to lower costs without sacrificing quality of treatment, and many are turning to Silicon Valley heavyweights to do so.
The first step in the multiyear partnership will be for Humana to form a "truly longitudinal view of its members' health histories" by modernizing its technology platforms and aggregating data on Microsoft Azure, according to a press release. That will lead to members and care teams having "complete health records at their fingertips where and when they need it," according to the company, and that will lead in turn to stronger, more targeted analytics.
"The next step for medical records is to go beyond the collection of information to the delivery of insights," Humana Chief Medical Officer William Shrank said in a statement.
Tech giants are racing to be the first to provide those insights and snap up market share.
Since it launched a formal unit devoted to the industry last June, Microsoft has formed partnerships with several high-profile companies like Walmart, Allscripts and Novartis.
The new partnership with Humana includes working on AI and voice capabilities for the payer, such as equipping home health devices with speech and audio technology so a beneficiary can be better monitored by their care team and improving clinical workflows for its employees.
Microsoft made a voice-to-text bet last week in tandem with clinical documentation company Nuance Communications. The two will work together on developing ambient sensing technology, AI-enabled software that listens to doctor-patient conversations and automatically inputs relevant info and data into a patient's medical record.