January 2012

Leveraging Digital Technologies in Healthcare

Technology needs to be secure, stable and scalable, and it is equally important that itshould be supported internally and externally

T S Y Aravindakshan
Lead, Public Sector Breadth, Microsoft

www.microsoft.com

During the last decade the health spend has been risingand the quality of healthcare has been declining.Digital technologies are having an impact in everywalk of life, but not much improvement has happened in thehealthcare sector. The cost of quality healthcare continues tospiral. At Microsoft we believe that were on the cusp of a pivotalchange. Within the coming decade, we expect to see anumber of innovations that will actually equip consumers toimprove their health and manage risks.

One of the primary reasons that digital technologies havenot delivered on the promise is that, up until recently, the vastmajority of health information technology solutions (HIT) on themarket today have targeted our existing, acute care deliverysystem – the hospitals, clinics and emergency departments- that are in the business of caring, but not preventing acuteconditions and complications of chronic diseases.

Acute care is, of course, an information-intense business, soits no surprise that most of the solutions to date have focusedon digitising, organising, and moving health record informationaround the ecosystem. The problem is, our existing acute caredelivery system is mired in its own inertia around reimbursements,cost shifting, low primary care to specialist ratios, andlocal turf wars and is now so consumed with acute care that itdoesnt even have the capacity to refocus on health.

At Microsoft , our focus is to collaborate and innovate with industry,business, academia, government, and consumer leadersto bring innovative, scalable and higher leverage solutionsthat bring about improvements in healthcare at lowest cost percapita to the environments where we live, work, learn and play.

With reimbursements falling and medical loss ratio minimumsrising, hospitals, physicians, and health plans are underunprecedented pressure to drive down operating costs whilestill improving the quality and safety of patient care. The economicadvantages of cloud-based productivity solutions todrive down operational costs and complexity are well understood.

Clinical teams–doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and carecoordinators–spend about 80 percent of their time communicating.The ability of facilitating communication on the movebetween patients and departments and the office and hospitalcan make the difference between a rapid recovery and a lifethreatening complication.

Technology needs to be secure, stable and scalable. Itneeds to be supported both internally and externally. Its notenough to have a system in place internally if the clinicaltrial partners you work with cant use it. If life sciences companiesare ever going to ditch paper and move towards anintegrated content management system, there needs to beindustry-wide agreement on the technologies, standards andprotocols and business processes that need to be in place. Basically, there is some risk in going 100 percent paperless.In order to improve data exchange and foster collaboration,solutions should integrate with other applications, and seamlesslyaggregate data from disparate sources into common,accessible formats.

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