Photo of healthcare professionals working together around laptop computer

Microsoft Azure Modernizes Healthcare

18 Nov 2015 by Jessica Hall

In an industry like healthcare that’s rife with sensitive information, regulations and cyberattacks, Microsoft Azure brings myriad benefits — from a leading approach to privacy, compliance and security, to low costs and simplicity. Here, we explore four innovative uses of the cloud-based solution.

Mobilizing the workforce

August Systems created Visit Wizard to help home-healthcare organizations schedule caregivers and electronically verify visits in the field while also automating billing, payroll and invoicing functions. However, in the past, the system required an administrator to manually email or mail each caregiver a printed schedule. By the time the information was delivered to the caregiver, it was often out of date, or easily confused with past emails or printouts.

To gain a competitive advantage, August Systems needed to transform its application to offer caregivers access to this critical information from anywhere and on any device. To address this need, the company created CareWhen. Using Microsoft Azure, they were able to take advantage of advanced functionality like automatic server scaling and geographic redundancy capabilities. “Those types of features have historically been very complex and costly to implement, so that many of the smaller companies didn’t have the infrastructure to support them,” says Alan Nelson, director of operations at August Systems.

Improving patient safety and quality of care

In the intensive care unit (ICU), safety and precision are critical, as errors can create significant problems. While healthcare professionals do everything in their power to stop these issues from happening, data and insights can aid them in their commitment to providing proactive and reactive care.

John Hopkins University is developing a system to equip providers with the essential information from medical records and modern equipment to create real-time, life-saving checklists for healthcare professionals. Using Azure and Internet of Things (IoT) technology, John Hopkins can connect devices, filter data and provide actionable judgments. According to Microsoft, Azure allows the solution to facilitate instantaneous, data-driven intelligence.

Stabilizing and scaling environments

With guaranteed uptime and geo-redundancy, Nelson says Azure creates an environment that is mature, stable and scalable. “Azure is consistent from a performance standpoint — in using it, the agencies are able to get to CareWhen 24/7 from any device.

“We can automatically scale up our infrastructure so the end user seamlessly has consistent performance throughout their day-to-day business.” Additionally, August Systems can effortlessly scale to meet its clients’ needs as they expand and open new locations.

Not only is it more stable and scalable, but Azure has also helped August Systems reduce many expenditures. “Through the Microsoft Partner program, the majority of our expenses for development, quality assurance testing and release environments are included as part of our Microsoft subscription,” Nelson explains. “We’ve been able to reduce the cost of production environments through Microsoft Enterprise licensing.”

Processing medical imaging data

The need for medical imaging data storage is increasing in health organizations around the world. Austin Radiological Associations (ARA) is no different. As they’ve moved to advanced technologies, they experience the benefit of increased image quality, but it has come at the cost of increased file sizes. Microsoft reported ARA projected the company would have three petabytes of data each year just from its 3D mammography image files alone.

To manage this increase, ARA decided to go with an Azure-powered solution, allowing the company to scale its data storage capacity at lower costs, and with much-needed redundancy and security. “We’ll know what our storage spend will be, and we get a much lower cost per usable terabyte than most array solutions,” says R. Todd Thomas, chief information officer at ARA.

Leveraging our 25-year partnership with Microsoft, Insight can help you determine if Microsoft Azure is the best solution for your healthcare organization. Talk to a specialist to learn more.