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

  • 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

  • Image of a large RTE sign at their HQ

    Microsoft Teams has quickly spread across the RTÉ campus

    Microsoft Teams has quickly spread across the RTÉ campus How an untapped resource in RTÉ helped dispersed teams collaborate and improve efficiency We recently worked with RTÉ to drive learning and collaboration. I was struck by how they have embraced Microsoft Teams and how they are now using it as a tool to drive information […]

  • Ineco

    Ineco improves employee productivity with modern tools and AI

    Struggling with software doesn’t help people get more done. Likewise, if sharing files and collaborating on documents is difficult, productivity takes a hit. Ineco, a Spanish public sector company, understands this, which is why it set out to change the way employees interact with technology and one another. By deploying Microsoft 365 to its over […]

Healthcare

  • 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 […]

  • The ‘Big Bang’ approach to digital transformation – and how to make it work

    The ‘Big Bang’ approach to digital transformation – and how to make it work

    These days there’s no such thing as ‘business as usual’. Change and disruption are the new normal. Just think of the changes affecting your organization right now, with new technology and techniques driving new attitudes and expectations from employees and customers alike. Everything is changing. And the one thing all those changes have in common […]

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

  • 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 […]

  • 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 […]

Discover more related articles per dossier:

Customer Stories

  • Banking on technology to empower employees with new ways of working  

    Banking on technology to empower employees with new ways of working  

    AIB extends its relationship with Microsoft to further develop a digitally inclusive and flexible cloud platform that empowers employees with new ways of working  There has been a seismic shift in employee expectations, with flexible working hours, a desire for a more positive work culture, and strong health and wellbeing policies all top of mind […]

Digital Transformation

  • Iceland runs on Trust

    How the cloud helped a small nation realise big ambitions

    In December 2015, the Icelandic government kicked off a digital infrastructure review. With more than 100 different suppliers managed by over 100 IT managers in each public institution, the brief was clear; to simplify operations and streamline IT for over 20,000 users. The solution: Fast forward two and a half years, and a decision was […]

Press

  • 2 people meeting with two surfaces on the table

    Winning the war for talent – the power of digital culture

    Winning the war for talent – the power of digital culture For the first time in history, we now have four generations in the Irish workplace – some organisations have as many as five generations working together. For business leaders, it means that finding and cultivating the best talent has never been more important – […]

Security & Privacy

  • Why leadership must join forces with CSOs in the fight for security

    Why leadership must join forces with CSOs in the fight for security

    In a world where data breaches are commonplace and costly for businesses of all sizes, a cohesive relationship between leadership and Chief Security Officers (CSOs) has never been more important. Collaborating to improve security and help your business succeed In May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will take effect, and will enforce stricter […]

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 […]