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For healthcare providers, interoperability seems like a never-ending discussion. Many organizations have attempted to navigate this thorny challenge, only to be frustrated by its complexities. The proliferation of hundreds of on-premise databases has fragmented information, further compounding the issue. A recent study found that only 30% of healthcare providers in the United States were pursuing advances in the four key domains of interoperability: data integration, reception, distribution, and finding. Poor interoperability has also impacted broader data sharing, resulting in information siloes that inhibit progress.

As the healthcare economy reaches a crisis point and the current model becomes unsustainable, it’s time for a new approach to interoperability—one that goes beyond technical strategies like common standards. Let’s take a look at how Microsoft and its partners are tackling interoperability to enable future healthcare innovation for health organizations.

Focusing on trust and adoption to make compliant data sharing a reality

In today’s cloud era, the conversation has shifted from digitizing paperwork and provider workflows to generating data that can be converted to insight. Data is a critical asset, and lower barriers for technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing (HPC) have removed longstanding cost concerns.

With these new technologies readily available, healthcare has an opportunity to do things differently. The cloud offers a technical platform to modernize legacy systems and aggregate data, but to be trusted, it needs to be secure and compliant. Interoperability is nuanced, and while common standards like Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) are an excellent step forward, making interoperability work at a practical level requires widespread adoption by the software engineering community, continued support for customers with legacy infrastructure, and ongoing advocacy with regulators. Electronic Health Record (EHR) providers will also have an active role to play as healthcare pursues new cloud partners that provide secure, compliant, interoperative platforms.

Fostering the next generation of interoperable healthcare solutions

As a leading provider of cloud technology, Microsoft is deeply committed to interoperability in healthcare. We invest over $1 billion USD annually in security and were one of the first technology providers to offer HIPAA business associate agreements (BAAs). We continue to build regulatory trust globally with our robust support for General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) compliance. Recently, we’ve made it simpler than ever before to create a health industry compliant cloud environment with the Azure Security and Compliance Blueprint—a set of automated scripts that enable healthcare organizations to quickly spin up an Azure workspace and work in a HIPAA-compliant manner.

To develop strong relationships within the developer community, Microsoft regularly contributes to open source and open standards efforts in many industries. We collaborate on new open tools such as cloud-hosted APIs and services for AI and machine learning. Last month, we issued a joint statement with other industry leaders, advocating for the adoption of FHIR as a healthcare common standard. But our commitment to FHIR doesn’t stop there. We actively encourage our vast partner network to embrace these standards and design a new wave of FHIR-enabled, compliant healthcare applications and solutions. We also work side-by-side with our health customers to develop and implement new strategies that deliver greater interoperability and help get your data flowing despite legacy infrastructure.

Join the conversation at Health 2.0

While the discussion may be far from over, Microsoft is hard at work on technical, policy, partner, and customer efforts to make interoperability real for healthcare providers—no matter where you may be on your digital transformation journey. In support of this critical topic, Microsoft’s Chief Medical Officer, Simon Kos, will be speaking at Health 2.0’s annual fall conference next week along with other healthcare leaders. We look forward to seeing you next week in Santa Clara.