Insurance giant Humana and Microsoft announced a seven-year strategic partnership to use cloud and artificial intelligence technologies to build predictive solutions and intelligent automation to support Humana members and their care teams. Humana plans to use Microsoft's technology muscle, specifically its Azure cloud, Azure AI and Microsoft 365 collaboration technologies, as well as interoperability standards like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) to provide care teams with real-time access to information through a cloud platform, the companies said. Providers can use these technology tools to have a more holistic view of their patients to enable better preventive care, keep up with patients' medication schedules and refills and identify social barriers to health such as food insecurity, loneliness and social isolation, Humana said. Humana's goal is to leverage technology to improve members' health outcomes and make their healthcare experiences simpler to navigate. The partnership will address two core innovation areas for Humana.
Patient engagement and user experience is a goal high on the priority list for many hospitals and health systems that wish to enhance communication with consumers, better include patients in their care decisions and ultimately improve outcomes. Information technology can help caregivers on the front lines of healthcare better engage people to nail down these ambitions. And the next generation of patient engagement IT will offer better and new tools and approaches to help caregivers and others aim high and hit the mark. Better bidirectional messaging with members of a patient's care team is a next-generation feature of patient engagement technology, said Brian Eastwood, an analyst at Chilmark Research, a healthcare IT consulting firm. "Such communication – in a patient's preferred modality, whether via text message or within an engagement app itself – addresses the lag time between responses that is common with e-mail or phone communication," Eastwood said.
These benefits will only grow as technical advancements continue in healthcare. For example, in a Q&A following his HIMSS keynote, Eric Schmidt of Google spoke of the critical role EHR adoption has played in the centralization of patient data, which will make the use of technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning possible in the healthcare space. Today, more than 95% of hospitals are using EHRs, and 38% of hospital chief information officers cite EHR integration with other systems as a top priority. READ: WannaCry, NotPetya, and Cyberwarfare's Threat to Healthcare The trick for healthcare providers and other entities covered by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is to ensure that, as these records become more widely used, shared, and interoperable, there are sufficient security controls in place to ensure compliance and patient privacy. This is especially true as new initiatives surface to make data more accessible to patients.
Ammon Fillmore is an attorney at Hall Render, which is the largest healthcare-focused law firm in the U.S. Fillmore has lectured on the top five things healthcare executives need to know about the ledger distributing technology and how it has the potential to change almost everything. As Fillmore notes, the majority of medical group managers and IT specialists agree that blockchain can at least help, if not solve problems with connection, privacy and patient record sharing. While many agree it has a lot of potential benefit, healthcare has not been so quick to hop on the blockchain. Digital Journal: How is the world of healthcare technology changing? Ammon Fillmore: Healthcare technology is rapidly changing from a convenient or novel tool for clinicians to supplement health care services to the irreplaceable platform delivering health care for each patient encounter.