Healthcare without boundaries now more than an aspiration. Dartmouth-Hitchcock announces ImagineCare.

When I joined Microsoft more than dozen years ago our health industry unit at the company was using the marketing slogan, “Healthcare without Boundaries”. In light of what is now happening in our healthcare system, it was the right message. It was just a bit too far ahead of its time with regard to then available technology and the healthcare system itself. The “boundaries” were rigid, disconnected, and often impenetrable.

imageA lot has changed since then. First and foremost, the health/healthcare industry is more than primed for change. The industry is pivoting to address the pressures of cost, quality and access. Public and private insurers are clamoring for a system of care that is not only more accountable, but extends from the hospital or clinic right into the patient’s own home. At the same time consumers, who are increasingly paying a greater portion of their healthcare costs out-of-pocket, are demanding better service, or so-called customer experience, than what they’ve been getting from healthcare providers.

Within this perfect storm technology itself has matured. Not only has computing power moved to the cloud, it has become far more intelligent. Vast amounts of data streaming from health records, devices and sensors can be analyzed in real time. Machine learning and vision can be applied to this data to deliver actionable insights not only to population health but to the health of individuals. To prevent information overload on harried healthcare professionals, intelligent agents can monitor data streams and alert doctors and nurses only when something needs their immediate attention.

imageSo what does this look like as it becomes integrated into a total system of care and prevention? Well, it might look something like ImagineCare, an unprecedented effort being launched by the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health System.

In their own words, ImagineCare is a customer-focused, proactive, and integrated mobile health solution. It is a customer service driven, evidence-based service that will change the way health care serves individuals. Although ImagineCare is not a technology solution, it leverages new technologies such as advanced analytics and machine learning to create adaptive protocols that also take into account electronic health record, claims, environmental, social-economic, and other data sets. It creates a platform that gives care teams unprecedented access to new information as they make imagedecisions on engagement and care.

ImagineCare creates a continuous 360 degree view of a person’s overall health from evidence-based care pathways, fed by wearable and home sensors, behavioral health assessments and sensing, and ongoing health risk assessments. All of this data, paired with new ways of data processing, provide a more robust and realist view of a person’s health and health goals.

If all of that is a little difficult to wrap your head around, ImagineCare has prepared a video that does a pretty good job of envisioning both the technological and human elements that make it possible. See below:


Some of the technology behind ImagineCare includes Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Microsoft Azure, and the just-announced Cortana Analytics Suite where data from sensors and devices such as blood pressure cuffs, pulse oximeters, and activity trackers like the Microsoft Band will create a real-time health status dashboard on each client. Registered nurses in a 24/7 contact center will have a singular view of each customer’s personalized care plan. When a person’s data exceeds a customer-prescribed threshold, an alert is sent to the nurse who then reaches out to the customer via phone call, video chat or secure text, often before the person even knows there’s a problem.

I’m beginning to see all the pieces come together that will truly enable the “care without boundaries” we all talked about so long ago.  According to Dartmouth-Hitchcock, ImagineCare rolls out to 6,000 patients this October. The health system is already lining up health organizations across the country for the technology platform they hope will soon become table stakes for high-quality care in the U.S, and perhaps around the world.

You can learn more about ImagineCare here, and the Cortana Analytics Suite here.

Bill Crounse, MD      Senior Director, Worldwide Health             Microsoft

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