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Bristol NHS Trust Turns To Microsoft Wearables And Predictive Tech To Boost Patient Care

Sam Pudwell joined Silicon UK as a reporter in December 2016. As well as being the resident Cloud aficionado, he covers areas such as cyber security, government IT and sports technology, with the aim of going to as many events as possible.

HealthVault uses machine learning and analytics to collate patient data from a range of sources

The University Hospitals Bristol NHS Foundation Trust will use Microsoft-powered video calling, wearable devices and predictive technology to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of its patient care.

In a joint initiative between Microsoft and IT healthcare firms System C and Graphnet, the Trust has turned to three Microsoft products and services that it believes will improve how it cares for patients.

The first of these is Skype for Business, which will allow clinicians to hold meetings and calls in a secure environment, as well as enabling recordings to be added to patient records.

future health doctor surgeon surgery

NHS Bristol

The Trust will also leverage HealthVault Insights and Azure machine learning. HealthVault uses machine learning and analytics to collate patient data from a range of sources so that healthcare professionals can spot trends in their patient’s health.

Azure will then use that data to help with the detection of symptoms. The myCareCentric Epilepsy app, for example, monitors metrics such as sleep patterns, exercise and heart rate to “learn” when epilepsy patients are about to have a seizure, thereby predicting the episode before it actually takes place.

“Next generation healthcare IT is about agile clinician-friendly and patient-facing systems operating across care communities, and the integration of healthcare applications with modern communication tools,” said  Ian Denley, a doctor and chief executive of System C. “The day of traditional monolithic systems is almost over.”

Heather Jordan Cartwright, group program manager in Microsoft Artificial Intelligence and Research at Microsoft, emphasised the importance of applying “machine learning innovation” to healthcare, as the tech can help in “alleviating some of the pressures on health and social care services worldwide”.

The NHS is currently going through a tricky time. As well as having to deal with budget cuts, the organisations has become a prime target for cyber criminals. Factors such as outdated IT systems and weak security measures have left it a soft target for hackers, as shown by the spate of recent attacks.

For example, research found that a third of NHS Trusts have been targeted by ransomware attacks within the last 18 months and Barts Health, England’s largest trust, was recently hit by a cyber attack that affected at least four London hospitals.

However, the NHS is still making progress in its digital commitments. After receiving government support in its plans to go paperless by 2020, the NHS has expanded its cyber security defences and announced partnerships Google-owned DeepMind to improve patient care through the use of digital technologies.

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