GE Healthcare and Microsoft partner to help hospitals fight COVID-19

Together they have developed remote data monitoring technology.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

GE Healthcare and Microsoft have joined forces to deploy remote data monitoring technology to help hospitals track numerous COVID-19 intensive care unit ventilated patients simultaneously and identify early warning signs of patients at risk of deterioration.

Designed to supplement existing monitoring devices in patients' rooms, the Mural Virtual Care Solution uses Microsoft Azure to provides near real-time data from ventilators, patient monitoring systems, electronic medical records, labs, and other systems from multiple patients to clinicians.

In addition, GE Healthcare said Mural can be customised to provide hospitals with data and calculations based on their care protocols to help identify if patients need intervention. This includes ventilation and lung injury management for patients on extended mechanical ventilation support.

"As both large and small hospitals treat the growing number of COVID-19 patients, the strain on healthcare providers and systems will be unprecedented," said GE Healthcare president and CEO Kieran Murphy.

"Not only is GE Healthcare providing critically important medical devices to address this global challenge, but we are also rapidly scaling technologies to aid clinicians in delivering safe, effective, and efficient care."

The solution has already been deployed by Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU).

"Facing the daunting outlook of a COVID-19 surge, it is imperative that I and my fellow healthcare workers use virtual ICU technology to safely monitor and care for our sickest patients while preserving PPE," OHSU chief medical capacity officer and vice chair of critical care medicine Matthias Merkel said.

"Remaining closely connected and supported through technology enables us to progress our patients' care across a geographic distance that we would otherwise be unable to manage."

This is the latest from an ongoing partnership between GE Healthcare and Microsoft.

Previously, the pair had formed Caradigm, a healthcare joint venture, but Microsoft quietly sold its stake in the company four years later.

Microsoft, however, has still retained interest in the healthcare sector over the years.

At the start of this year, Microsoft unveiled a $40 million, five-year 'AI for Health' philanthropic initiative, that was designed to build on other healthcare artificial intelligence-focused work the company had been undertaking with customers and partners.

Last month, Microsoft announced that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) had chosen to use Microsoft's Healthcare chat bot service to power its own COVID-19 assessment bot. 

Microsoft has worked alongside Amazon Web Services and Deloitte Australia to develop an SMS notification system for the New South Wales government to allow patients to opt-in to receiving their COVID-19 pathology results via text message.

"We're working closely with governments around the world to help bring together the data needed for COVID-19 research as well as providing tools such as the Power Platform to help develop citizen apps. We have seen a 42% growth in the use of PowerBI dashboards sharing COVID-19 information in real-time," Microsoft Australia national technology officer Lee Hickin told ZDNet.

"While it's a terrifying time globally, it's a fascinating experiment in innovation across all industries. Technology has a huge role to play during this pandemic -- delivering critical building blocks that enable communication, collaboration and connectivity, that bridge local physical barriers and connect us with the world outside our own four walls."

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