Hello there!

 

Last week, we announced new capabilities to Microsoft Teams to empower healthcare professionals . As we begin HIMSS 19, I wanted to take this opportunity to provide some additional information about the Microsoft Teams, and our support and implementation of the FHIR standard and share some exciting news about Partners that are going to enable the care coordination solution.
Care coordination and collaboration is one of the key pillars for our investments in Microsoft Teams in healthcare. The solution gives healthcare teams a secure hub for coordinating care across multiple patients. It provides for integration with electronic health records (EHR) systems and enables care providers to communicate about patient care in real-time within Teams’ secure platform. The key challenges that we aim to address are:


• Low efficiency in hand-offs and communication critical throughout the care continuum
• Siloed information that creates administrative burden in the healthcare system
• Growing dissatisfaction among clinicians with complex and fragmented collaboration tools
• Inefficient and in person care coordination that can burn too much clinical time and cost

 

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The care coordination solution in Microsoft Teams involves a first party tab app that integrates with electronic health record (EHR) systems via a FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) interface to bring valuable medical information from the systems of record into Microsoft Teams. This enables clinical workers to collaborate and communicate across the care continuum. The care coordination solution can be enabled through partnerships with leading healthcare Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) that can connect the care coordination solution to your EHR systems and bridge the gap between existing health data standards like HL7v2 and FHIR.

 

As of today, we’re extremely proud to announce working partnerships with the following healthcare partners to establish electronic health record integration:
- Datica (through their CMI offering)
- Infor Cloverleaf (through the Infor FHIR Bridge)
- Redox (through the R^FHIR server)
- Dapasoft (through Corolar on FHIR)

 

So, why FHIR and what does Microsoft Teams do with it?
One of the key challenges to achieving coordinated care is the lack of interoperability between electronic systems in healthcare. Enabling interoperability through an industry backed standard like FHIR enables clinicians to have the best information available at the point of care when making diagnosis and treatment decisions.

 

The HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard is rapidly gaining support in the healthcare community as the next generation standards framework for interoperability. HL7 FHIR is rapidly gaining support in the healthcare community as the next generation standards framework for interoperability, and it’s clear why. FHIR is an extensible and modern standard based on a web-based suite of API tech including HTTPS and RESTful protocols. In August 2018, Microsoft joined with Amazon, Google, IBM, and other companies in a commitment to remove barriers for the adoption of technologies that support healthcare interoperability, particularly those that are enabled through the cloud and AI. Supporting the FHIR standard and investing in open source to enable FHIR is core to that commitment for all product teams focused on healthcare within Microsoft and Microsoft Teams is no exception. In fact, the decision to leverage FHIR has been a key component of our architecture from the beginning of this journey.

 

So, tell me more about the features of the care coordination solution …
Today, the 1st party app (which sits in the general channel of a Team as a tab app) lets a care team – doctors, physician assistants, nurses, social workers, dietitians, case managers and more in a hospital unit or ward create lists to include patients that they want to monitor to coordinate care, take notes around their condition, fetch their latest medical data from the EHR and collaborate over them in the context of Teams and channels using the various features of Microsoft Teams such as channel mentions, at mentions, channel meetings, etc..


The app has an underlying service layer with an operational FHIR client interface that can query relevant patient medical information, connected to underlying EHR systems deployed within a provider organization. Listed below are some of its key features:


• Ability to fetch latest patient data from the EHR systems
• Ability to create multiple patient lists within a single channel.
• Ability to view and sort information displayed about patients through configurable columns.
• Ability to auto-provision the application through a team template.
• Available on the Teams App for iOS and Android for mobile first healthcare workers.
• Support for FHIR DSTU2 and STU3 versions via parsing of conformance statement.

 

The services that power this aligned with the FHIR open source community by using an open source FHIR parser library from GitHub (which is maintained by several key members of the FHIR community) as a key component of our code base to parse FHIR objects. The Microsoft Teams FHIR implementation is also aligned with Project Argonaut (and follows the US Core Profiles) for all the FHIR resources it consumes.

 

What about HIPAA and storage of ePHI data within Microsoft Teams?
Microsoft Teams is Tier D compliant per the Office 365 compliance framework and boasts support for the HITRUST CSF and HIPAA BAA which allows a covered entity to sign a BAA (business associate agreement) per Microsoft Volume licensing and Online service Terms. Therefore Microsoft Teams can be used to store and share ePHI data. Learn more about Microsoft Teams security and compliance here.


As far as the care coordination solution goes, the data it pulls from EHR systems is not stored at rest. Also, there are 11 events for read actions performed by clinical users inside the Microsoft Teams care coordination solution that show up in the Security and Compliance audit logs.

 

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How can my organization participate?
Since the Microsoft Teams Patients application is still in private preview, we’re looking to partner with customers who would like to model their care coordination scenarios on Microsoft Teams. If you’re interested in connecting your EHR system to Microsoft Teams for care coordination scenarios, please reach out to your Microsoft account team or partner. Additionally, our team will also be present at HIMSS19 at booth #2500, so please come visit us!

 

As always, we appreciate your feedback and participation in the private preview to help improve our product while driving positive outcomes for your healthcare organization. Thank you for reading and stay tuned for updates. We’re excited about bringing Microsoft Teams to the healthcare industry!
Please feel free to post questions and/or feedback about Microsoft Teams in healthcare on the Health and life sciences discussion board.


We are listening.