logo

Why trust is the essential ingredient in healthcare digital transformation.

Veronica Jagher

Veronica Jagher

Health Market Director, Microsoft Western Europe

Read Time, 5 min.

My phone had scarcely stopped ringing for weeks. Now it was ringing again.

“Veronica,” said the voice at the other end, “we have an idea!”

Immediately, I recognized who it was. I’ve known Carlo Tacchetti for almost as long as I’ve been at Microsoft. He’s a professor at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and the Director of the Experimental Imaging Center at IRCCS San Raffaele – one of the most important hospitals in Milan.

This was the spring of 2020, when Covid-19 was tightening its grip on Italy. Neither I nor anyone else on my team had time to eat lunch or do anything except work. While our inboxes were creaking under the weight of incoming emails.

At that time, clinicians were finding it difficult to identify the most vulnerable patients among those with milder coronavirus symptoms. So, they had no choice but to keep everybody in hospital – which meant they swiftly ran out of ICU beds.

Carlo explained that he and his colleague Antonio Esposito, another professor at the Vita-Salute San Raffaele University and the Deputy Director of the Experimental Imaging Center, had thought of a way to tackle this problem. Their idea was to use Microsoft cloud and AI technology to create an algorithm which could calculate each patient’s risk level. It would analyze diagnostic images, clinical and laboratory parameters, inflammatory status and genetic profiles. Then, in theory, the algorithm would be able to quickly predict whether a patient would need to be sent to ICU or allowed to recover at home.

“Will you help us?” asked Carlo.

Of course we would. As soon as I’d put the phone down, I contacted two colleagues, and together we began trying to make it happen. And the result is AI-SCoRE – a collaboration between IRCCS San Raffaele and Microsoft, plus the team of partners we assembled, including NVIDIA, Porini and Orobix,  aiming to help doctors quickly and precisely identify people more at-risk from Covid-19 – and with total respect for patient privacy.

Now Carlo, who has an oncology background, and I are thinking about how we can take it further. We’d like to create similar algorithms to help treat cancer patients. Especially when it comes to pinpointing those likely to relapse – so he can be extra vigilant with them and take preventative measures.

Trust comes from having a shared purpose

I think part of the reason Carlo picked up the phone and called me is the fact we share a sense of purpose. Digital transformation in healthcare is more than just a professional interest for me and my team. Just like Carlo, we believe it’s a fundamental right for all citizens to have access to equitable healthcare. And a huge part of that comes down to improving its quality – making it more effective, efficient and sustainable with digital technology, while always placing patient confidentiality and data protection at the centre.

That outlook certainly isn’t unique to my team. The same goes for our partners and for Microsoft as a whole – with its mission ‘to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.’ That sense of purpose is the seed from which trust can grow.

With that trust, coupled with the confidence that comes from Microsoft’s security, privacy and compliance capabilities, health organisations can move much faster when necessary. And one example of this springs to mind – it involves Finland’s largest healthcare organization: HUS.

HUS is one of our established customers. Together, we’d been implementing new digital tools for several years, with Microsoft cloud services and Microsoft 365 already in place. As social distancing measures came into force in 2020, both patients and doctors needed to change how they interact. So HUS quickly scaled-up Microsoft Teams from 5,000 users to its entire workforce of 29,000 people.

In a programme that would have required slow and incremental change, HUS was able to shift to virtual consultations, remote working, online collaboration and digital scheduling – almost overnight. And it did so with total confidence that its data would be protected in the strongest possible ways.

The HUS neurosurgery clinic has started using Teams to share scans securely and make faster treatment decisions. It’s even considering placing a tablet beside each bed in all of its 23 hospitals, so that staff can speak to in-patients quickly without having to enter the room and risk spreading infections.

If HUS hadn’t fully trusted Microsoft – trusted our platform, data protection, privacy, security and compliance – such rapid and positive change would have been unthinkable.

Partnerships built on privacy, security and compliance

As I’ve described, I believe trust begins with individuals. But given the increasing complexity of the world we live in, Microsoft itself plays a huge role too. When customers partner with us, they benefit from world-leading intelligent security, integrated across our whole portfolio of solutions. They benefit from machine learning and automation, deployed to tackle cyberthreats, plus  a whole suite of innovations across compliance, privacy, transparency, legal protection and GDPR.

Hospitals and healthcare organizations are still chiefly run by physicians who may not always be experts in digital technology.  That’s one reason initiatives like the Microsoft AI Business School for Healthcare are so helpful. But more importantly, it’s the reason we need to continue demonstrating that Microsoft’s platform and solutions come with built-in trust.

Brad Smith has been at the vanguard of this. Look at projects like ‘AI for good’ which promotes ethical use of artificial intelligence. Or the fact we’ve made our threat notification service, AccountGuard, available to healthcare and human rights organizations working on Covid-19. We’ve even launched an initiative to help 25 million people across the world acquire the digital skills they need in a Covid-19 economy. All these efforts epitomize Microsoft’s commitment to making technology both trustworthy and a positive force in the world.

And yet, we still acknowledge that we don’t have all the answers, all of the time. The world keeps on changing. So the Microsoft approach is to never get complacent and commit to continuous learning.

Trust will make us more resilient   

Looking to the future, I know organizations are eager to address the wider problems facing the sector. In Europe, some authorities haven’t invested in healthcare infrastructure as they perhaps should have. We’re facing ageing populations, chronic diseases and a lack of interoperable data. Nevertheless, stories like that of IRCCS San Raffaele in Milan and HUS in Finland show that with collaboration between organizations and partnerships based on trust – we’ll be able to rise and meet whatever challenges lie ahead.

 

Free eBook: Five Tactics for Improving Security and Compliance in Healthcare

Find out how to stay compliant with data security requirements as your organisation embraces technologies like Artificial Intelligence and the Internet of Things.

Discover more related articles per industry:

Education

  • Make remote learning work better for everyone. Find out how.

    Make remote learning work better for everyone. Find out how.

    Since the COVID-19 outbreak first hit China, our education customers in the country have done amazing things to keep students engaged while they transition to remote learning. From eLearning innovations, to keeping students’ spirits high with photo and cooking challenges – teachers and students have shown extraordinary resilience during this difficult time. Now, as the […]

  • A guide to GDPR for universities

    A guide to GDPR for universities

    With the EU’s new General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect on May 25, understand how universities like yours can take the right steps towards compliance with this free eBook – and other useful resources. Your university on a journey on a journey Your university is on a journey with lots of ‘data subjects’. They’re […]

Government

Healthcare

  • Patient consultation using Microsoft Teams

    Improved Quality of Life for Cystic Fibrosis Patients through use of Microsoft Teams for Consultations

    Improved Quality of Life for Cystic Fibrosis Patients through use of Microsoft Teams for Consultations at University Hospital Limerick   Pilot programme reduces infection risk and improves therapy outcomes for patients and clinicians Part of the Health Service Executive (HSE) in Ireland, University Hospital Limerick (UHL) has been piloting online consultations using Microsoft Teams for […]

  • Two female nurses having a virtual conversation through Microsoft Teams

    Belfast Trust: Reimagining patient care

    “There have been many heroic actions by our staff but we’re not heroes for what we’ve done – I’m just glad we could do our bit to help.” Paul Duffy, Co-Director of IT and Telecommunications at Belfast Trust, is talking about the monumental impact COVID-19 has had on the healthcare sector and how virtual consultations […]

Manufacturing

  • Etex

    Etex uses modern tools to unite its business and better focus on customers

    When it comes to construction, all components must come together in a timely manner in order to produce the optimum product. While Etex, a Belgian building solution manufacturing company, helps make this a reality on a day-to-day basis, it wanted to find a way to enhance productivity and collaboration internally. With locations across more than […]

Retail

  • HeadBrands is ready for the future with Microsoft 365 Business

    HeadBrands is ready for the future with Microsoft 365 Business

    Since its creation in 2010, HeadBrands has continued to grow, rapidly becoming the leading retailer of hairdressing products in Scandinavia. HeadBrands needed a modern IT solution to increase its business productivity and improve collaboration, both within the company and externally. Its response to this challenge was to replace most of its previous services with Microsoft […]

  • GDPR and Retail: Four GDPR requirements and how Microsoft can help

    GDPR and Retail: Four GDPR requirements and how Microsoft can help

    Learn how we can help you meet GDPR requirements with solutions available today: Assessing your current risk profile “How do I understand where I am already compliant and where I need to focus next?” This is one of the most common questions from retailers in regard to the GDPR. It’s also one of the hardest to […]

Discover more related articles per dossier:

Customer Stories

  • Etex

    Etex uses modern tools to unite its business and better focus on customers

    When it comes to construction, all components must come together in a timely manner in order to produce the optimum product. While Etex, a Belgian building solution manufacturing company, helps make this a reality on a day-to-day basis, it wanted to find a way to enhance productivity and collaboration internally. With locations across more than […]

Digital Transformation

Press

  • Microsoft Research Reveals Digital Culture’s Key Role in Irish Organisations’ Competitiveness

    Microsoft Research Reveals Digital Culture’s Key Role in Irish Organisations’ Competitiveness

    NEWS RELEASE Microsoft Research Reveals Digital Culture’s Key Role in Irish Organisations’ Competitiveness Without a strong digital culture, introducing more technology reduces employee engagement Microsoft Ireland’s research shows: Only 11% of Irish employees feel highly productive in their job and 14% feel highly engaged. While 90% of employees report low innovation in their organisation. Where […]

Security & Privacy

Tips

  • a man and a woman sitting at a table

    5 reasons why you should start using Microsoft Teams today

    Collaboration and teamwork are the defining characteristic of modern organisations. Since its launch, Microsoft Teams has become the fastest growing app in Microsoft’s history with more than 330,000 companies worldwide using it. If you’re working in one of those companies, then you’re probably finding new ways to use the app on a daily basis. But […]