Microsoft Shuffles Health Care IT Leadership, Focuses on School Data

Microsoft has announced new leaders in health care IT and set goals around managing data for conditions such as childhood obesity and diabetes.

Microsoft has shifted its health care IT management, naming Michael Robinson general manager of U.S. Health & Life Sciences and moving Dr. Dennis Schmuland into the new role of chief health strategy officer.

The shift in leadership is a continuation of Microsoft's current health care IT strategies, according to Robinson, who blogged about the changes in an Aug. 24 post.

"I see the announcement as a continuation of Microsoft's commitment to making sure that we're relevant in the industry, particularly with Dennis' role," Robinson told eWEEK.

A key aspect of Microsoft's health care IT strategy is making sure data is available to physicians at any location in real time, he said.

"A lot of what is required is data aggregation, data analysis, making sure that data is available regardless of where the individual resides, whether it's a physician, clinical worker-that they get relevant data in a timely fashion," he said.

One example is Microsoft's initiative to bring electronic health records to schools. Robinson is working with schools in Miami on health data initiatives in this area.

"We're looking at how do we tie the personal health records for students with their scholastic records, so kind of integrating that and bringing those together as well as making sure that children in underserved communities have access to quality health care," Robinson said. By combining health care and academic data, parents and teachers can gain a better understanding of the causes of truancy, Robinson suggested.

Going forward, Microsoft will explore how technology can manage chronic conditions such as childhood obesity, diabetes and congestive heart failure, Robinson said.

Microsoft will also continue to explore how gaming can further health. Mobile devices will be able to connect to gaming systems such as Kinect for Xbox to monitor chronic conditions or range of movements and transmit the data to EHRs. Kinect is a device for the Xbox 360 gaming console that allows for input using motion sensing and gestures.

A physician could monitor a patient's therapy routine using Kinect for the Xbox or a PC to avoid having to travel to a therapy center, Robinson explained.

"There are a number of things we can do to deliver educational content via Xbox or other technology into the home, where people can have interactions with their physician or therapist in real time using streaming media or some technology like that," Robinson said. "We think there's a huge opportunity for us to really change the dynamics of health care in the home and make sure mobile devices are connecting to things like HealthVault and that we are collecting that data in real time."

Microsoft's core health data products, Amalga, a health intelligence platform for enterprises, and HealthVault, a personal health record (PHR) platform for consumers, fall under the Health Solutions Group, run by corporate vice president Peter Neupert.

In his most recent position, Robinson was general manager for public-sector initiatives in the Middle East and Africa, a region of more than 70 countries. Robinson has been with Microsoft since 2002.

Before his promotion, Schmuland was Microsoft's national director of health plan industry solutions. Robinson's predecessor as general manager of U.S. Health & Life Sciences, Brian Scott, passed away in January.