Innovations for health and healthcare through the looking glass of Microsoft Research

IMG_1162One of the coolest aspects of my job at Microsoft is getting early previews of work going on at Microsoft Research.  Did you know that Microsoft invests more than $9 Billion a year on applied research across a broad range of ICT.  This includes research on natural user interface, cloud computing, analytics, robotics, artificial intelligence, machine learning and much more.  A few times each year, I venture over to building 99 on the Microsoft campus to meet with my colleagues at Microsoft Research and see first-hand what they’ve been up to.  I’ve documented these visits here on HealthBlog and in a number of videos over the years.

imageNow, please understand that most of the research has nothing to do with healthcare.  But over the years, I have been amazed at how many of the new technologies invented at Microsoft Research eventually find their way into health and healthcare applications.  Examples I could give include medical imaging and education apps that take advantage of PhotoSynth or Deep Zoom.  Other examples that come to mind are health collaboration apps on Microsoft Surface.  And I probably don’t even need to mention all the excitement we are seeing in health and healthcare around Kinect for XBOX 360 and Kinect for Windows. We call this the Kinect Effect.  Around the world customers, partners, and researchers are building applications that use Kinect technology to assist surgeons in the operating room, help children with learning disabilities, or engage senior citizens in activities to improve mobility and social interaction.

imageSo what other new technologies are coming down the chute that may also find their way into health and healthcare?  This week, Microsoft’s chief research and strategy officer, Craig Mundie, released a TechForum press video showing some of the newest work coming out of Microsoft Research.  The video release is a prelude to activities next week on the Microsoft campus in Redmond called TechFest 2012.  It’s an opportunity for Microsoft fulltime employees to attend a large technology fair exhibiting some of the best ideas and projects coming out of Microsoft Research from across the globe.  It is one of my favorite events of the year.

I thought it would be fun to share Craig Mundie’s press release video with HealthBlog readers so you too, can look at some of these new technologies through the refined lens of someone who is passionate about clinical medicine and healthcare.  Study the video and send me some comments if there’s something in it that triggers your imagination for how it might one day be used in health or healthcare.


A touch of brillianceThis week also marks the release of the consumer preview of Windows 8.  The excitement is really building not only here at Microsoft, but certainly with our customers and partners around the world.  If you have downloaded the consumer preview, I’d be interested if you see ways that Windows 8 will lead to improvements in clinical computing, clinical workflow, healthcare administration, patient engagement, medical education, tele-health, telemedicine, etc.

Finally, in my keynotes and media interviews of late I’ve been making the case that it is no longer technology per se that holds us back from wider use in health and healthcare, but rather the business models, perverse incentives, clinical behaviors and regulatory environments that inhibit broader adoption and use of contemporary information communication technologies in healthcare.  You’ll see this reflected in a media interview I did last week at the HIMSS meeting in Las Vegas.  Conducting the interview is Christian Hess, from the Asklepios Group in Germany, one of the most advanced health systems in Europe.  And yes, the video is in black and white.  Mr. Hess told me, somewhat tongue in cheek, that it is a tribute to this year’s Academy Award winner, The Artist.


Bill Crounse, MD                     Senior Director, Worldwide Health                        Microsoft


Comments (2)

  1. Deb K says:

    Any way we can go to the Tech Fest??

  2. hlthblog says:


    Thanks for asking.  I'm sorry to say TechFest is only open to Microsoft fulltime employees.  Microsoft Research does invite a few members of the press to attend, but that invite is limited.

    Bill Crounse, MD

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