Healthcare IT: Microsoft’s View, Part II

Posted on July 19, 2010


 See previous post “Healthcare IT: Microsoft’s View, Part I

The following excerpts are taken from Microsoft’s white paper “Knowledge Driven Health: The Next Wave of Innovation in Healthcare”.  I could not manage to locate it again on the web again; I believe it is from 2008.

In lieu of a weblink, I have provided a Cliff’s Notes version of the document in two parts which, as the authors “present a vision of how health will be provided in the future.” Who knows what ideas will be adopted or how long it will take, but I found this a pretty realistic view into the crystal ball of where healthcare and information technology intersect; it is not the future for future’s sake, but an innovative future that looks to solve some of today’s major problems in healthcare. Microsoft offers more recent white papers at their website. Microsoft offers more recent white papers at their website. 

The highlights (continued):

“Healthcare delivery in the future will entail significantly grater personal responsibility…Individual citizens will need to be proactive to maintain their health and wellness, prevent disease and hospital readmissions, and incur fewer health-related costs.
To facilitate this greater control, citizens will need to have greater real-time communication with healthcare providers, so that they are better equipped to maintain their own health.

New Technologies for Clinical Systems
Digital Home Technologies for Aging in Place.  “These [digital home] solutions would also shift at least some of the responsibility for care from formal providers to individuals and their personal care network—usually family and friends.

“Networks will utilize…wireless sensors within the home to automatically capture and record data that measures patterns of behavior. Sensors will continually monitor the safety of older adults, in addition to their compliance with medication, diet, and daily exercise routines, among other indicators.

“For a home to provide medical assistance it must be equipped with distributed, cooperative computers, physiological and environmental sensors, and both wired and wireless communication capabilities.

“Next-generation monitors, or even ingested or implanted RFID devices,…systems…other IT devices in both inpatient and outpatient environments

“RFID automatically captures a variety of data necessary for patient safety, asset and patient tracking, and materials management for healthcare providers…“right patient, right drug, right dose, right route, and right time”…A combination of active and passive tags could allow staff, assets, patients, consumables—in fact, almost anything—to be tracked…RFID will have many uses in healthcare, including: reducing inventory losses; locating tagged equipment by using a PC or mobile device, giving staff more time at the patient’s bedside; monitoring surgical instruments for location and maintenance; locating staff and patients easily by the tagged bracelets they wear; and tracking pharmaceutical products.

“Complicated medical procedures are performed using robots.
Virtual Operating Theater.  Rich, remote presence—voice, video, data and real-time application sharing—is already being used to deliver better healthcare in areas where medical professionals are scarce or unevenly distributed.

Genomics focuses on the application of gene-based approaches to improve the understanding of human diseases, drug discovery, and variable drug reactions…In addition, researchers are developing genetic test that can tell whether people are susceptible to certain types of cancer, atherosclerosis, stroke osteoporosis, vision and hearing loss, or even oral cavities. The patient and physician may use this information to establish a program of health management, including monitoring, lifestyle changes, nutrition recommendations, or protective drug therapy.

“In a Knowledge Driven Health environment, smart devices, software, and networks are combined to create a unified system that works on behalf of and under the control of the people within it.

“In the world of Knowledge Driven Health delivery, the following practices are common:

• Case notes travel with patients
• Test results and medical images are shared online
• Administrators enjoy a complete view of staff availability, equipment, beds, operating theaters, etc.
• Patients in facilities access wired and wireless nurse-call devices with unobtrusive monitoring
• Practitioners develop video content and stream it to patients in their homes to help speed the recovery process. Patients pay for services online, or swipe a card, thereby minimizing paperwork.
• Health workers no longer need to start their day at the office. They upload their schedules wirelessly from home, and then access and update patient records as they go.
• General practitioners are empowered with a complete health record, access to online drug databases, medical breakthroughs, real-time information on clinical best practices, drug trials, and cautionary advice from drug companies; and complete connectivity to other health entities.
• Pharmacists retrieve patient prescriptions online
• Educational material is streamed to consumer devices using video, broadband, GPRS, or other network technologies
• Claims are processed at the point of care.”

Even if only one or two of the ideas mentioned become viable and adopted by mainstream healthcare, it will be impossible to know how that will affect healthcare planning and design. This is both the excitement and frustration of technology and the speed of innovation and change.

Posted in: Healthcare IT