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Humana, Microsoft announce partnership focused on aging populations

Humana will also tap Microsoft for healthcare-tuned natural language understanding and speech recognition to improve workflows.

Jeff Lagasse, Associate Editor

On Monday, Humana and Microsoft announced a strategic partnership focused on building healthcare solutions for Humana members aimed at improving their health outcomes and making their care experiences simpler to navigate.

Using Microsoft's Azure cloud, Azure AI, and Microsoft 365 collaboration technologies, as well as interoperability standards like FHIR, Humana will develop predictive solutions and intelligent automation in an attempt to improve its members' care. It hopes to do so by providing care teams with real-time access to information through a secure cloud platform.

If all goes as planned, doctors will deliver personalized healthcare by providing a holistic view of their patients, ensuring preventive care, keeping up with medication schedules and refills, and offering perspective on social determinants of health, such as food insecurity, loneliness and social isolation.

Humana will also leverage Microsoft technologies for healthcare-tuned natural language understanding and speech recognition to improve administrative and clinical workflows, ostensibly making healthcare easier for members and clinician partners.

WHAT'S THE IMPACT

As a first step in the seven-year partnership with Microsoft as Humana's preferred cloud provider, Humana will modernize its technology platforms and aggregate data on Microsoft Azure, enabling what it expects will be a longitudinal view of its members' health histories. This is to facilitate Humana's members and their care teams having complete health records available.

Another goal for Humana is to enable efficiencies by standardizing productivity and collaboration tools for its 41,600 employees on Microsoft 365. For example, Microsoft Teams enables healthcare professionals to use a secure hub for coordinating patient care. Humana employees can use Microsoft Teams to assist members, to centrally manage and securely share patient interaction history and files, and to communicate by chat and voice with care team members and health plan administrators to improve quality of care.

The partnership will also address two core innovation areas. Humana will leverage Microsoft Azure and Azure AI to develop on-demand and virtual medical services. In addition, Humana plans to deliver a more integrated healthcare experience across all touchpoints with Azure AI and voice capabilities to personalize patient care.

With Azure AI, Humana will be able to instantly translate the many different languages of an individual's electronic health record and decipher nonelectronic parts, such as socio-economic determinants of health, and store them alongside the rest of the patient's information. With this technology, Humana will develop healthcare-specific clinical intelligence capabilities, such as equipping home health solutions with voice technologies that enable care workers to be more productive, and will allow Humana to proactively capture and address barriers to health.

As part of the strategic partnership, the companies have committed to a multiyear investment in research and development to build new insights, and advance Humana's focus on value-based care. This investment will include direct funding, dedicated R&D teams and specific co-developed projects.

THE LARGER TREND

The partnership is the second with a tech-focused company announced by Humana this year. In April, the insurer teamed with Doctor on Demand to launch a new virtual care model called On Hand. Members and employers are able to opt into this new plan, which will let patients access an in-network primary care doctor with no copay. Users will also have access to urgent care providers and behavioral health clinicians.

The new plan is marketed as lower-premium alternative to traditional insurance. Virtual visits are free, and there is a $5 copay for common tests and prescriptions. The service also comes with wellness visits to track patient health and a standard medical device kit.

Twitter: @JELagasse

Email the writer: jeff.lagasse@himssmedia.com