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Microsoft Adds Cloud for Healthcare Data and AI Enhancements

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New AI capabilities aim to unify healthcare analytics in one common architecture. The company says ML and gen AI-driven expansions in Azure enhance digital transformation and improve clinical workflows.

New tools announced this week enable Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare users to access, analyze, and visualize data-driven insights across their organization through Fabric architecture, find multilingual support for text analytics, and leverage three new artificial intelligence models in Azure.

The cloud provider also said more users can try Azure AI Health Bot. This generative artificial intelligence assistant can glean information from unstructured text, while select partners using Fabric will have a chance to preview de-identification services.

Why It Matters

Microsoft announced that new data and AI capabilities would help healthcare organizations improve patient experiences, gain new insights, and better secure health information, laying the groundwork for a unified approach to healthcare data and organizational AI strategies.

“Healthcare data continues to grow rapidly, and organizations are struggling to keep up with higher volume, greater variety, and increased velocity,” said Alysa Taylor, corporate vice president of Azure + Industry, in the company’s blog. 

Text Analytics for health services can now extract meaningful insights in six languages besides English – Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, and Hebrew.

Machine learning-driven de-identification services in Microsoft Fabric and Azure Health Data Services allow healthcare organizations to anonymize medical data extracted from clinical notes, messages, or clinical trial studies while retaining its clinical relevance and adhering to HIPAA privacy requirements. 

The AI automatically extracts, redacts, or surrogates more than 30 entities from unstructured text, including HIPAA’s 18 protected health information identifiers.

In the future, Microsoft said it plans to add de-identification services for structured, imaging, and MedTech data. 

With the expansion of the Azure AI Health Bot, more healthcare organizations on the cloud can create tailored generative AI chatbot experiences for administrative and clinical workloads and patient experiences. 

Taylor said that three new built-in models in Azure AI Health Insights are available to preview and create patient timelines based on clinical data and evidence, provide patient-friendly versions of clinical notes and reports, and improve radiology workflows.

The Larger Trend

Microsoft has embarked on a number of AI partnerships with healthcare organizations in recent months.

Late last month, the Mayo Clinic announced physicians and other clinical staff at the health system would be testing new generative AI applications as part of the Microsoft 365 Copilot Early Access Program. 

Exploring ways to combine LLMs with productivity apps could reduce provider burden.

“Using AI-powered tech will enhance Mayo Clinic’s ability to lead healthcare transformation while focusing on what matters most – providing the best possible care to our patients,” Cris Ross, Mayo’s chief information officer, said.

In August, Dr. David Rhew, global chief medical officer and vice president of Healthcare at Microsoft, said another partnership with Duke Health is looking at operationalizing responsible AI principles.

The purpose is to help “ensure that AI is deployed safely, effectively, and in an unbiased and transparent manner,” he said.

On The Record

“In the new era of AI, the importance of data continues to grow as organizations realize that without a solid data strategy, they are only scratching the surface of what’s possible with AI,” Taylor said in the announcement.

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