Humana, Microsoft partner to use cloud technologies to aid healthcare

Humana and Microsoft are joining together to enlist advanced, cloud-based technologies to build predictive and personalized healthcare solutions.

The seven-year partnership will draw on Microsoft technologies, including its Azure cloud, Azure artificial intelligence and voice technologies.

Humana expects to use the technology to better analyze and distribute relevant information to clinicians in real time, with the goal of improving preventive care and more uniformly addressing factors that influence members’ health, now popularly known as social determinants of health.

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Signage is displayed outside the Humana Inc. office building in Louisville, Kentucky, U.S., on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2016. The Justice Department sued in July to block the union of Aetna Inc. and Humana Inc., saying they would reduce the number of large, national health care insurance providers, leading to increased costs for their clients. Photographer: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg

Executives of the Louisville, Ky.-based health plan say the company will modernize its technology platforms and aggregate data on Microsoft Azure, with the intent of providing a longitudinal view of members’ health histories.

Humana also will leverage Microsoft technologies for healthcare-tuned natural language understanding and speech recognition to improve administrative and clinical workflows to make information creation and sharing easier for members and clinician partners.

For both clinicians and patients, Humana wants to make healthcare records more easily available, with the goal of having complete health records at their fingertips when and where they’re needed.

“Achieving our goal to provide better care experiences and improve our members’ health requires strong partnerships that allow us to be smarter, safer and faster in delivering care,” says Heather Cox, chief of digital health and analytics at Humana. “The technologies to empower our members to get ahead of their health issues and equip doctors with information exist today.”

Humana will standardize on productivity and collaboration tools for its 41,600 employees on Microsoft products—for example, it foresees using Microsoft Teams to enable healthcare professionals to use a secure hub for coordinating patient care. Humana employees can use Microsoft Teams to assist members, to centrally manage and securely share patient interaction history and files, and to communicate by chat and voice with care team members and health plan administrators.

Humana will leverage Microsoft Azure and Azure AI to develop on-demand and virtual medical services. Also, the health plan expects to be able to use Microsoft Azure to instantly translate the many different languages of an individual’s electronic health record and decipher non-electronic parts, such as socio-economic determinants of health, and store them alongside the rest of the patient’s information.

Humana executives say they expect to use the technology to develop healthcare-specific clinical intelligence capabilities, such as equipping home health solutions with voice technologies that enable care workers to be more productive; they say this will enable Humana to proactively capture and address important barriers to health.

“The next step for medical records is to go beyond the collection of information to the delivery of insights,” said William Shrank, MD, chief medical and corporate affairs officer at Humana. “Microsoft technologies offer Humana the ability to apply sophisticated analytics to our members’ records and, in turn, provide clinicians and care teams with the opportunities to make a difference in patients’ health.”

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