With the annual HIMSS (Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society) conference being held last month, it was no surprise to hear from Microsoft about new innovations for healthcare organisations. These innovations encompassed Microsoft Teams, HoloLens 2, and Azure. On the Microsoft Teams side, several innovations were added in preview that have direct value for healthcare teams. Urgent messaging, message delegation, image sharing within Teams, and integration with electronic healthcare records were all announced.
Adoption of new tools and approaches is about aligning tool capabilities with the needs and opportunities facing teams and individuals, and often during discussions with teams in the real world, the need for new capabilities surface. The above innovations in Microsoft Teams all follow this idea. For example, the life-and-death nature of healthcare results in the need for:
- A sender to signal urgency. Stamping a message as urgent offers a simple way of conveying additional information without having to use words directly. Urgent messages are highlighted for the recipient, providing them with the context for allocating their time between multiple requests. In Teams, an urgent message will notify the recipient every 2 minutes for up to 20 minutes that something needs urgent attention.
- A healthcare worker to signal unavailability. When busy on other tasks and thus unavailable for interaction via Microsoft Teams (e.g., in surgery), people need the ability to set expectations for other people who seek their expertise. Much like the out-of-office setting in Outlook that signals unavailability when someone is writing an email message to the individual, message delegation in Teams specifies that the original recipient is unavailable and who to engage with instead.
- A healthcare worker to safeguard patient data. Despite facing life-and-death situations, as a matter of policy patient data should not be captured or shared without appropriate safeguards in place. The smart camera feature of Microsoft Teams means that photos are only stored within Microsoft Teams, and not also stored on the s internal storage as well. This helps reduce the likelihood of inappropriate disclosure of sensitive and confidential patient data.
- A healthcare worker to gain the wider picture. Any given health interaction with a patient is set within the context of the s general health status and intervention history. Healthcare workers often need access to this wider picture when making in-the-moment decisions, and being able to access the s electronic health record within Microsoft Teams facilitates better care outcomes.
What’s fabulous about Microsoft’s innovations in Teams for healthcare, however, is that the innovations are not limited to healthcare workers (except the electronic health records one). As Microsoft rolls out these new capabilities to Microsoft Teams, for sure healthcare workers will be able to adopt and make use of them, but so will anyone else for whom the functionality makes sense.