Microsoft launches Azure Health Data Services to unify health data and power AI in the cloud

Regular Contributor

Written by Heather Jordan Cartwright, Vice President, Health and Life Sciences, Microsoft




Today, we take a giant step toward making the dream of interoperability in healthcare real. Microsoft is announcing the general availability of Azure Health Data Services, a platform as a service (PaaS) offering designed exclusively to support Protected Health Information (PHI) in the cloud. Azure Health Data Services is a new way of working with unified data—providing your team with a platform to support both transactional and analytical workloads from the same data store and enabling cloud computing to transform how we develop and deliver AI across the healthcare ecosystem.

Imagine this scenario:


"Give me all the medications prescribed and connected home health device data with all the CT Scan documents and their associated radiology reports for any patient older than 45 with a diagnosis of osteosarcoma over the last 2 years."

The above statement is a common request to health data managers. It may come from physicians, clinical researchers, or data scientists, but this type of request in today’s systems can often take days or even months as health systems have to query multiple data stores that don’t speak the same language, then extract the data files, and finally work to unify them in batches for the user. Different types of health data are stored in siloed formats and databases—structured data like medications and patient attributes in pharma or EHR databases, CT scans in DICOM format, radiology reports as unstructured text, and medical device data in a separate data estate. By the time all the data is finally organized for use, the information is stale. With Azure Health Data Service, queries like these can be filled in minutes and the data can be connected to the places you need.


Azure Health Data Services is the first of its kind to unify diverse data types in the same data store at the patient level as you bring it into the cloud, which means you can view structured, unstructured, and imaging data together for a holistic, real-time view—in just minutes. With the service, you can search and query across your data using a unified Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) structure and deploy a suite of services to connect it rapidly to the technology you need. Whether you’re blending patient data with population health data sets for AI development and analytics, visualizing data for operational efficiencies, deploying patient engagement tools for personalized care, or querying imaging metadata alongside clinical data using our new DICOMcast feature, Azure Health Data Services work with your existing systems to enhance what you’re doing today. It’s also built on open standards to ensure you can support new solutions and innovations yet to come.


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