I’m back in the office after a few days on the road to speak at Microsoft’s annual field training event, ISX, in Atlanta. It was great to mingle with my Microsoft friends and colleagues from around the world and hear their firsthand reports of how our technologies are improving health and healthcare in so many regions of the globe.
Our ISX training sessions are held in conjunction with a much larger event called the Microsoft Global Exchange or MGX. MGX is a gathering of more than 10,000 of our employees and top executives. As much fun as it is to meet with my colleagues who focus on the health and healthcare industries, MGX is an opportunity for me to find out how technology is shaping all industries, large and small, and also how software and IT are impacting the lives of consumers. In fact, it is pretty clear that these days consumers are influencing the future of information technology as much, or even more so, than businesses.
Consumers are having a profound influence on health and healthcare delivery. The Internet opened the door for this, and the genie has been out of the bottle ever since. Today, consumers have an expectation that access to information, transactions, and services will be delivered by the Net. Although healthcare still lags other industries in using information communication technologies (ICT), healthcare reform with its emphasis on making care more accessible, improving care quality and safety, and lowering costs is accelerating the need for new solutions that will be driven by technology.
And where is that technology headed? It is headed into the cloud. In fact, Microsoft is betting its future on moving the platform, infrastructure and services that industries and consumers will need to the cloud. This isn’t entirely new by the way. We’ve offered solutions in the cloud for more than 15 years starting with Windows Live Hotmail, a cloud based service that now has more than 450 million users. With its inherent lower costs, greater flexibility, manageability, and ability to scale, cloud computing is exactly what the healthcare industry needs. After all, healthcare organizations are first and foremost in the business of providing care, not writing software applications or managing complex data centers.
Beyond the focus on cloud computing at MGX, I saw an amazing array of new technologies, some available now and some just around the corner, that will open up all kinds of opportunities for improvements in health and healthcare. It doesn’t take much imagination to see how high definition video delivered over the Internet and into the home using commodity priced equipment is a game changer for telemedicine. It’s takes no stretch of the imagination to see how Microsoft Kinect will not only change how we play games in our living rooms, but how we might one day communicate with and learn from all kinds of professionals including doctors, nurses, physical therapists, and dieticians. It’s also easy to envision how an array of connected devices like smart phones, tablets, PCs, and televisions together with devices that can capture and communicate all kinds of physiological data will help keep us better informed and healthier too.
If you thought the last ten years in healthcare were interesting, the next ten should be truly transformational.
Bill Crounse, MD Senior Director, Worldwide Health Microsoft Corporation