Microsoft Unified Communications in Health—saving lives, saving money

imageHealthBlog readers know that I’m a huge proponent for eHealth strategies as a means to improve health and healthcare around the world.  More than a decade ago, I helped establish a company that harnessed the power of the Internet to connect physicians and their patients.  At the time, this was very hard to do.  However, technology has now matured to a point that we can deliver, at very low cost, the kind of telehealth and telemedicine services that were once limited to the domain of government organizations and large university medical centers.  The technology required to deliver affordable high quality, even high definition, video and audio over the Net is here.  Combined with on-line “presence” and powerful collaboration tools, solutions are now available so doctors and specialists can work together across great distances and patients can be helped no matter where they might live.  What was once only a vision, is now becoming commonplace.

Take for example, this new video and case study from my colleagues in Russia.

As described on the Microsoft Unified Communications Group Team blog, this video shows how a Russian hospital is able to use OCS as a Telemedicine solution to remotely diagnose patients.  Lotsman Plus, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner in Russia, built this custom hosted solution using OCS 2007 R2 as a Communication Enabled Business Process platform, integrating with SharePoint.”

The post goes on to say, “When patients in rural areas suffer a heart problem, they go to a local clinic which can often be kilometers away from major cities in Russia.  While the rural clinic facility is critical for the community, the clinic doctors often do not have the level of expertise or equipment to conduct surgery operations.  They have diagnostic/imaging equipment but need to consult with other surgeons/specialists to diagnose critical situations.  Using their imaging equipment, doctors can scan the hearts of their  patients and upload the video & still images automatically to SharePoint servers hosted at Lotsman Plus facilities.  Clinic doctors can then start an OCS conferencing session with specialists at the Federal Cardiovascular Center in Penza, Russia.  During the OCS conferencing session, specialists can diagnose a patient’s heart on a real time basis, control remote-playback of videos/images uploaded to the OCS + SharePoint custom apps, then advise the patient on their condition and make important decisions about whether to bring them to the Center immediately for surgery operation.”

There are other stories like this, many of which I have shared with you here on HealthBlog.  And, it keeps getting better.  Microsoft partner, Polycom, is now using Microsoft’s OCS platform to extend the power of their own telehealth and telemedicine solutions.  They offer an array of high quality audio and video conferencing devices including partner-supplied medical devices that integrate with our unified communications platform and services.

If you represent a healthcare agency, clinic or hospital, I encourage you to contact your local Microsoft account representative to learn more about unified communications in health.

Bill Crounse, MD           Senior Director, Worldwide Health           Microsoft


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