Healthcare isn’t just about treatment, it's also about diagnosis, prevention and more. In these areas, advanced technologies are playing an increasingly significant role. The confluence of advanced technology with the healthcare ecosystem is set to bring in more efficiency, speed, and cost optimization for hospitals and practitioners while making medical treatment more accessible, timely, and affordable for patients. Here’s a look at how Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) is applying advanced technologies in this area.
The World Health Organization (WHO) database reveals that over 45% of its member states report to have less than 1 physician per 1,000 population.
The data published by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) shows that the U.S. could face a shortage of up to 120,000 physicians by 2030, impacting patient care across the nation. Going forward, a major decline in supply of doctors will happen because of the fact that one-third of all currently active doctors will be older than 65 in the next decade.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO) 2018 update, cancer is the second leading cause of death globally and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer. It highlights how late-stage presentation and inaccessible diagnosis and delayed treatment are accentuating the problem.
Scope & Market
AI can be instrumental in early and accurate detection of diseases such as cancer while reducing unnecessary biopsies. A paper reported that the NLP software algorithm interpreted results of breast X-rays 30 times faster than doctors with 99% accuracy. This is an important finding since it is estimated that mammogram reviewed by humans result in unnecessary biopsies nearly 20% of the time. In the U.S. alone, more than 1.6 million breast biopsies are performed annually.
Further, the journey of a drug from a research lab to a patient’s bedside is long and expensive, taking an average of 12 years and costing a company more than a billion dollars. There is a vast scope for AI in the area of drug research and discovery.
“By directing the latest advances in AI to streamline the drug discovery and drug repurposing processes there is the potential to significantly cut both the time to market for new drugs and their costs,” reads a PwC report.
The IoT healthcare market is projected to grow to $158.07 billion by 2022, at a CAGR of 30.8% from 2017 to 2022 while AI in healthcare is forecast to reach $7.98 billion by 2022 at a CAGR of 52.68% during (2017-2022). According to Accenture analysis, “when combined, key clinical health AI applications can potentially create $150 billion in annual savings for the United States healthcare economy by 2026.”
“We (Microsoft) believe technology – specifically the cloud, AI and collaboration and business optimization tools – will be central to healthcare transformation.” With that view, Microsoft launched Healthcare NExT in 2017 as its initiative aimed at accelerating healthcare innovation through artificial intelligence and cloud computing.
Microsoft has been working to significantly reduce the time it takes to do the major computational aspects of sequencing a genome. Back in 2016, its method of running the Burrows-Wheeler Aligner (BWA) and the Broad Institute’s Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) on Azure was reported to be seven times faster than the previous version.
In February 2018, Microsoft announced general availability of cloud-based tools for genomics research. Microsoft’s partners include BC Platforms, DNAnexus and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. Analyzing genomic data can be very helpful in selecting a patient’s treatment.
Earlier this year, Microsoft announced partnership with Seattle-based Adaptive Biotechnologies to build a practical technology for mapping and decoding the human immune system using deep AI technology and machine learning capabilities.
Further, Microsoft is helping healthcare organizations to manage sensitive data and unlock its potential using the power of data analytics and Machine Learning. Microsoft announced the Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint (HIPAA/HITRUST) to help health organizations move to the cloud with greater simplicity, compliance, security and industry-standard compatibility.
Microsoft has been building AI network for healthcare. In December 2016, Microsoft, L V Prasad Eye Institute (India) and global experts together launched the Microsoft Intelligent Network for Eyecare (MINE). The project was aimed at early screening and detection of eye diseases through Azure. Over a quarter million patient trials in India have been conducted using our AI models and in 2017, the government of Telangana become the first Indian state to use Artificial Intelligence for eye care screening for children.
Now, its AI Network is being extended to cardiology in partnership with one of the largest chain of hospitals in India, Apollo Hospitals to deploy new machine learning models to gauge patient risk for heart disease.
Note-taking and paperwork in patient care is a big energy drain for doctors. Microsoft in collaboration with University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) is working on Project EmpowerMD that will create a system that listens and learns from what doctors say and do. The system will utilize Custom Speech Services (CSS) and Language Understanding Intelligent Services (LUIS), customized for the medical domain.
Project InnerEye, Health Bot, HealthVault Insights are some of other projects by Microsoft.
“AI can be viewed as a sleeping giant for healthcare. AI methods show promise for multiple roles in healthcare, including inferring and alerting about hidden risks of potential adverse outcomes, selectively guiding attention, care, and interventional programs where it is most needed, and reducing errors in hospitals,” said Eric Horvitz, director of Microsoft Research Labs.
Microsoft is not alone in the race; there is competition from companies such as IBM, Baidu Google, and Alibaba. While it’s hard to say that which company becomes a market leader, one thing is certain that the whole healthcare ecosystem will emerge as a winner.