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Parts of the NHS plan to use predictive technology and video calling to help patients

Parts of the NHS plan to use video calling, wearable devices and predictive technology to improve how they care for patients.

In a joint initiative between Microsoft and IT healthcare firms System C and Graphnet, some NHS trusts are looking at adopting solutions to improve patient care and efficiency.

HealthVault Insights uses machine learning and analytics to bring together patient data from a range of sources, including wearables, so medical professionals can spot trends in people’s health. This allows doctors to create customized care plans for their patients, who can easily stay in contact through the HealthVault Insights app.

Azure machine learning uses that data from wearables to help patients. System C and Graphnet’s myCareCentric Epilepsy app, for example, looks at sleep patterns, exercise, heart rate and temperature and aims to “learn” when epilepsy patients are about to have a seizure.

Skype for Business will give clinicians the option to hold meetings and calls with each other and patients in a secure environment. Calls can also be recorded and added to clinical records.

“The ability to apply machine learning innovation in healthcare is key to alleviating some of the pressures on health and social care services worldwide,” said Heather Jordan Cartwright, group program manager in Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research at Microsoft. “We are really pleased to be working with System C and Graphnet as they deliver transformational solutions to patients and healthcare providers.”

Ian Denley, chief executive of System C, said technology such as machine learning and video calls will become more commonplace in healthcare in the future.

“Next generation healthcare IT is about agile clinician-friendly and patient-facing systems operating across care communities, and the integration of healthcare applications with modern communication tools. The day of traditional monolithic systems is almost over,” he said.

The agreement with parts of the NHS came as Microsoft unveiled plans to help the healthcare sector.

The technology company announced the launch of Healthcare NExT, a collaboration between Microsoft’s artificial intelligence (AI) and research unit and healthcare partners. Microsoft will offer training, technology, engineering expertise and data to firms in the alliance, the first of whom is the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). The $13 billion UPMC is made up of more than 25 hospitals, a three-million-member health plan and 3,600 clinicians.

“Despite UPMC’s efforts to stay on the leading edge of technology, too often our clinicians and patients feel as though they’re serving the technology rather than the other way around. With Microsoft, we have a shared vision of empowering clinicians by reducing the burden of electronic paperwork and allowing the doctor to focus on the sacred doctor-patient relationship,” said Steven D Shapiro, MD, chief medical and scientific officer of UPMC and president of UPMC’s Health Services division.

Other Microsoft initiatives include allowing companies to build AI-powered chatbots, while Azure will be used to tackle the $450 billion problem of healthcare fraud.