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Microsoft joins Amazon, Google, IBM to support healthcare data interoperability

Microsoft and several other tech giants are willing to cooperate on technology standards to help the healthcare community. Yesterday, at the CMS Blue Button 2.0 Developer Conference in Washington, DC, Microsoft along with Amazon, Google, IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce released a shared statement to announce a joint effort to support healthcare interoperability.

Josh Mandel, Chief Architect at Microsoft Healthcare since June 2018 explained that he specifically joined Microsoft because of the company’s support for open standards, such as the Data Transfer Project and the Open Neural Network Exchange (ONNX). “Microsoft understands that true interoperability in healthcare requires end-to end solutions, rather than independent pieces, which may not work together,” he explained.

It’s pretty rare to see tech giants collaborating on open standards, as it’s certainly not the case in certain domains such as video codecs or even web standards. In the shared statement, all companies “commit to actively engaging among open source and open standards communities for the development of healthcare standards, and conformity assessment to foster agility to account for the accelerated pace of innovation.” This all sounds very encouraging, but Mandel added that “we expect that the assumptions from our joint statement will continue to evolve and be refined based on this open dialog with the industry.” You can find the full joint statement below:

We are jointly committed to removing barriers for the adoption of technologies for healthcare interoperability, particularly those that are enabled through the cloud and AI. We share the common quest to unlock the potential in healthcare data, to deliver better outcomes at lower costs.
In engaging in this dialogue, we start from these foundational assumptions:

  • The frictionless exchange of healthcare data, with appropriate permissions and controls, will lead to better patient care, higher user satisfaction, and lower costs across the entire health ecosystem.
  • Healthcare data interoperability, to be successful, must account for the needs of all global stakeholders, empowering patients, healthcare providers, payers, app developers, device and pharmaceuticals manufacturers, employers, researchers, citizen scientists, and many others who will develop, test, refine, and scale the deployment of new tools and services.
  • Open standards, open specifications, and open source tools are essential to facilitate frictionless data exchange. This requires a variety of technical strategies and ongoing collaboration for the industry to converge and embrace emerging standards for healthcare data interoperability, such as HL7 FHIR and the Argonaut Project.
  • We understand that achieving frictionless health data exchange is an ongoing process, and we commit to actively engaging among open source and open standards communities for the development of healthcare standards, and conformity assessment to foster agility to account for the accelerated pace of innovation.

Together, we believe that a robust industry dialogue about healthcare interoperability needs will advance this cause, and hence are pleased to issue this joint statement.

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Do you think tech giants should do more to push open standards?