Microsoft launches public cloud service for health care

The tech giant, No. 2 in the cloud infrastructure market, plans to introduce several industry-specific cloud offerings

In the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, Microsoft is unveiling a major new cloud-computing initiative focused on the health care industry.

The Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare is now available in public preview and through a free trial for the next six months. General availability is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2020.

This is to be the first of several public cloud infrastructures designed solely for one industry’s needs, company officials said. Future offerings could be geared toward major Microsoft vertical markets, such as banking, defense/intelligence, manufacturing or retail, among others.

This new Industry Cloud product line will combine Microsoft’s existing cloud capabilities with specific APIs, models and processes required by each industry. For instance, the health care cloud has a focus on in-depth analytics, HIPAA compliance, data accessibility and the ability to create a consumer-friendly patient experience.

“Too often, the tools providers use to coordinate patient care are fragmented and impede the collaborative workflows required in a complex care environment,” the company said in an announcement. “To address these challenges, we have been building capabilities in Microsoft 365 and Microsoft Teams that streamline healthcare workflows and provide a secure platform for connected care coordination.”

The company said health care organizations can use this industry-specific cloud to extend the value of Microsoft Dynamics 365 Marketing, Dynamics 365 Customer Service and Azure IoT.

Microsoft unveiled the Cloud for Healthcare at Build 2020, its annual developer conference that’s being held online-only for the first time this year. 

Through aggressive expansion, Microsoft has firmly established itself as No. 2 in the cloud infrastructure market. While it still trails behind the overall market leader, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft’s cloud business is growing fast. 

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In fact, Microsoft is gaining on AWS and is expected to dominate the market over the next three years, according to a recent Goldman Sachs survey of IT executives. 

While AWS has long been a favorite of startups and developers, Microsoft has concentrated on large, established enterprises. The growing healthcare market remains one of its top priorities. 

The launching of Microsoft’s Cloud for Healthcare follows the 2018 release of a number of cloud-powered health initiatives that grew out of Microsoft’s healthcare-focused research unit, Healthcare NExT.

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