- Microsoft is teaming up with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center to create products aimed at changing care delivery, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.
- Under the arrangement, called Healthcare NeXT, UPMC Enterprises will use Microsoft’s expertise in areas like cloud computing and artificial intelligence to develop and demonstrate new healthcare solutions for patients and providers.
- The effort pairs UPMC Enterprises with Microsoft Research’s New Experiences and Technologies division, and advances Microsoft’s desire for a piece of the lucrative digital health pie.
Microsoft has tried its hand at health products before with Microsoft Band and HealthVault. Both failed to take off. But with the era of cloud computing, Microsoft sees another opportunity for personal health information repository HealthVault — not as a product but a service.
The company will unveil plans for HealthVault Insights, a cloud service offering AI and analytics options for researchers, at next week’s HIMSS conference in Orlando.
UPMC has a solid history of IT partnerships; the health system was the most active provider investor in digital health in 2016, according to Rock Health, with six major investments. Among them was $17 million in venture funding for mental health startup Lantern Health. What UPMC looks for in a strategic business partner is the opportunity to add value to the propositions that an entrepreneur brings to the table. “If it’s an exceptional idea that hits home with a specific pain point in the critical areas that we’ve identified internally at UPMC, then [that helps] the partnership,” Rasu Shrestha, chief innovation office at UPMC, told Healthcare Dive in an interview last fall.
Among products Microsoft and UPMC are considering are ones that could improve workflow and reduce unnecessary visits to the ER. For example, researchers are developing an AI tool that lets radiation oncologists view patient scans in 3D in minutes rather than hours. Another product employs chatbot to helps people gauge their symptoms before seeking medical help.