The Record Issue 11: Winter 2018

96 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR E H ealthcare providers in the early 21st century enjoy unprecedented benefits from techno- logical advances but struggle with multiple challenges around finances, service delivery and staffing. Data is at the heart of these challenges, says Elena Bonfiglioli, regional business lead, Health and Life Sciences, Microsoft. “Three key issues that are top of mind for health authorities today are Data Commons, data interoperability, and the need to balance data privacy and security with the innovation potential of extrapolating data at population or individual level.” A key factor holding back the transformation of health systems is that health and patient data have been locked away in numerous silos, limiting the ability to combine and leverage data to drive inno- vation, says Bonfiglioli. “The causes are partly technical, with divergent systems holding data in formats that are not easily used by other systems, and partially based on outdated laws and policies. There are significant privacy and trust issues that need to be overcome before we can effectively lev- erage large ecosystems of data for broader uses.” Microsoft’s recent ‘Healthcare, artificial intel- ligence, data and ethics: a 2030 vision’ report identified the need for a foundation of trust and communication of the benefits that broader use of patient data is already delivering. “Linked to this, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the health- care context is already raising a series of important societal and ethical questions which we will need to address now,” says Bonfiglioli. She regards this as critical to ensure respect for existing norms as well as the development of norms for emerging issues. Bonfiglioli believes that Microsoft has an important role to play in this debate. “We are confident that these new technological develop- ments can be harnessed for social good, to deliver unprecedented improvements in many aspects of our healthcare. But we also understand our obligation to play a role in the important conver- sations that must take place if we are to balance new opportunities with established and emerg- ing social norms and regulatory frameworks.” In this respect, she argues that Data Commons is an emerging need for health organisations, to allow for new approaches to data-sharing and governance, “built upon open and interoperable data platforms uniquely equipped to accelerate research and advance science.” Health organisations worldwide face restricted budgets, growing patient demand and personnel constraints. Technological innovations can improve patient experiences and outcomes, but only if providers can resolve issues around trust and privacy BY M I CHE L E WI T THAU S health technology revolution The