By Kevin Peesker, President, Microsoft Canada
Even before the global pandemic hit, pioneers in the healthcare industry were transforming systems with technology to deliver better experiences, insights and care for patients. We worked closely with healthcare organizations across Canada to deploy new technologies to solve dynamic challenges, and, at the same time, embark on a journey to develop their own digital capabilities using AI, cloud computing and more. And then the pandemic hit; those with a strong digital foundation in place, were able to pivot in response to COVID-19 and those who took a more tempered approach to transformation had to find new ways of doing things, fast. The crisis served as an undeniable catalyst to fast-track changes in the healthcare industry that will have a lasting legacy.
Over the past year, we have continued to collaborate with leading healthcare organizations in Canada and globally to drive patient outcomes. What we have learned is that healthcare providers don’t think about the products they want, they think about the experiences they want and the capabilities they need to improve care and outcomes. We are seeing more emphasis on collaboration and partnership, and so together, we are focused on new solutions that use health data and advanced analytics to transform and innovate healthcare and life sciences in profoundly positive ways.
Some of the best changes take place when space is created to let innovation happen, and we’ve seen incredible examples of this in Canada at every stage of the pandemic: remote care and helping to mitigate the spread of the virus; economic recovery and safe return to work; and aiding the vaccination rollout to reopen society.
Remote Care: Take Jewish General Hospital (JGH) for example. Based in Montreal, JGH is one of the first healthcare institutions in North America to experiment in real time with mixed reality to limit clinician exposure while treating COVID-positive patients. JGH minimized direct contact for staff by arming a single clinician who was fully outfitted in PPE with the Microsoft HoloLens. Using cloud and AI services including Dynamics 365 Remote Assist and Microsoft Teams, that clinician could then send a highly secure, live video-feed to a remote team of experts to treat the patient. While this solution was adopted out of necessity, it’s a powerful example that shows how the changes put in place today will help medical professionals deliver personalized care to Canadians in new, innovative ways in the post-COVID world. Not only does it provide a new standard of care for managing highly contagious illnesses, it also provides opportunities for treating patients in remote communities by providing access to specialists without requiring travel.
Safe Return to Work: Microsoft joined forces with a consortium of Canada’s largest organizations, led by Creative Destruction Labs, to develop a solution for safer return to work for those in industries where remote work is not feasible. The Rapid Screening project and Consortium Data Hub is helping to provide rapid COVID-19 screening in the workplace using Power Platform, PowerBI and Azure for an agile, scalable and secure solution that is helping Canadian organizations get back to work more safely. This broad, cross-industry partnership demonstrates how technology can augment human ingenuity to benefit society when we lead with a growth mindset to solve big challenges.
Vaccine Rollout: We are currently managing the pandemic, but ending it requires rolling out vaccine efforts at almost unimaginable scale, including having the skilled workforce in place to administer vaccines to communities virtually at the rate vaccines are received. Microsoft is working closely with Montreal-based CAE Healthcare to help clinicians deliver vaccines safely, efficiently and at scale. Built on Azure, the CAE Injection mobile app teaches clinicians how to handle and administer each of the approved COVID-19 vaccines, including unboxing, storage, injection and aftercare. This will allow health care officials to quickly train clinicians to scale up their vaccination efforts, enhancing consistency and safe practices.
At every stage of the pandemic, data and digital technology solutions have made the impossible possible, transforming entire industries, almost overnight. The accelerated digital transformation across the healthcare industry will have an impact for future generations, with the adoption of long-term structural changes such as the increased use mixed reality, AI, machine learning and data analytics.
At Microsoft, we have enhanced our efforts to provide an industry‐specific cloud offering, Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, which aims to address the comprehensive needs of the rapidly transforming and growing healthcare industry. And as the latest step in our industry‐specific cloud strategy, we announced the acquisition of Nuance, a pioneer and a leading provider of conversational AI and cloud‐based ambient clinical intelligence for healthcare providers. Together, with our partner ecosystem, we will put advanced AI solutions into the hands of professionals everywhere to drive better decision‐making and create more meaningful connections, as we accelerate the growth of Microsoft Cloud in Healthcare.
We are proud to be part of new solutions and new partnerships as we join together in our common cause to create better, more personalized healthcare for everyone. For more information on healthcare solutions, please visit https://www.microsoft.com/en-ca/sites/healthcare-canada/solutions/