Microsoft giving Healthcare a Digital Touch
To make the patient-doctor consultation more comfortable, collaborative and productive is the goal of an application developed by Texas Health Resources, which operates 13 hospitals in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, and Microsoft partner Infusion Development.
Texas Health Resources' prototype is one of four Microsoft Surface applications for healthcare that Microsoft and its partners are demonstrating this week at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) 2009 conference in Chicago. Together, these demonstrations showcase how the innovative Microsoft Surface natural user interface (NUI) can provide healthcare providers with solutions to solve difficult hospital-management or patient-care problems.
From the time of the first Microsoft Surface deployment in summer 2008, healthcare was seen as a key market. "We thought Microsoft Surface offered real value to emergency departments, in-patient and ambulatory care, and children's hospital environments," says Randy Fusco, chief technology officer for Microsoft's Health & Life Sciences Provider Industry in the U.S. "Patients have a choice where they receive care, and healthcare systems are looking for innovative ways to differentiate themselves around patient experience. Microsoft Surface can help healthcare providers do that."
One of the prototypes has been put together by Texas Health Resources and Infusion Development, and it involves a Microsoft Surface application complete with images, videos, diagrams, and health records that doctors can use in order to enhance their relationship with the patient.
"From the first time I saw Microsoft Surface, I thought it was just made for healthcare," says Dr. Bill Crounse, worldwide health senior director for Microsoft. "It doesn't feel like you're using a computer – it's much more intuitive and easy to use, for both patients and doctors."
To create a digital "traffic cop" that manages the flow of patients throughout the hospital, Microsoft Gold Partner MEDHOST has developed what it calls the Operational Visibility Engine. Using Microsoft Surface and powered by Windows Presentation Foundation, the Operational Visibility Engine delivers a graphical image of the hospital layout, tracks digital records of incoming patients, and maps them to specific floors or beds.
"In my experience, when there is a disaster you have a handful of patients about whom you need to make very quick decisions related to their treatment and finding a bed for them. With this application a doctor or nurse can look at all the patients coming in and decide how best to handle them, rather than dealing with them one at a time in typical triage," Patricia Daiker, vice president of marketing for MEDHOST, commented.
Another powerful aspect of Microsoft Surface is object recognition. Much like a RFID or bar code, Microsoft Surface can recognize tagged physical objects placed on the display. A potential example of this technology can be seen in MEDHOST's application, which provides a hands-on solution to provide real-time information to caregivers and decision-makers in times of a crisis. Texas Health Resources also looked to incorporate object recognition with its Microsoft Surface application. So imagine, in the future, a doctor or patient being able to see their medical information collaboratively by placing a tagged personal patient card on Microsoft Surface.
Chicago-based Allscripts, a Microsoft partner and one of the largest suppliers of electronic health records (EHR) software for physicians' office and clinics, and Springfield Clinic developed a suite of applications for Microsoft Surface. The applications can provide an interactive overview of the clinic or hospital when a patient arrives, or provide a personalized interactive care plan. With the personalized interactive care plan, the physician's notes can be incorporated in the EHR and made available for the patient to review, all with a flick of the finger, in outpatient settings.
Vectorform – a global design and gaming specialist and a Microsoft partner – teamed with the Cook Children's Health System in Fort Worth, Texas, on an application that gives rehabilitation specialists a powerful new way to work with children.
Typically, says Tim McKendrick, a senior project manager with Vectorform, rehab specialists ask children to perform tasks such as tracing a line through a maze the specialist might draw on a piece of paper. Often the test is timed, and repeated daily or weekly to monitor a child's progress. "We computerize that," says McKendrick. "The caregiver can create their own tests on Microsoft Surface using its drawing capability, set their own parameters for success, and easily repeat the test and track the child's progress."