Microsoft will partner with Teladoc Health to integrate virtual care onto Teams. The platform aims to streamline the technological and administrative processes involved in providing telehealth services.
The collaboration, announced Wednesday, will combine Microsoft Teams' workflow with Teladoc Health's Solo platform to let caregivers communicate better with patients, according to the two tech giants.
"The main goal is to help institutionalize virtual care into the everyday practice of medicine, creating a seamless and easy user experience for providers and patients," said Joe DeVivo, president of hospitals and health systems for Teladoc Health.
Microsoft's partnership with Teladoc will allow caregivers to access clinical data and electronic health records while in Teams. The joint platform will include medical grade virtual care capabilities that can be reached from the Teams environment or a clinic's existing electronic health records system.
The first iteration of the platform will likely be available in early 2022, DeVivo said. In the following years, Teladoc will work with data aggregated through the Microsoft health cloud to improve AI and machine learning.
In April, Microsoft announced it was acquiring Nuance Communications, a computer software company that would help it build its cloud services and stand out to telehealth providers.
"Microsoft has done very well for itself in building a tech stack that's compelling to healthcare organizations," said Jeffrey Becker, principal analyst for healthcare technology at CB Insights.
Microsoft obtained the necessary certifications for its teleconferencing software to become HIPAA compliant, according to Becker. The company also integrated Nuance's transcription service into Teams so doctor and patient conversations could be automatically documented and formatted.
Incorporating existing healthcare organizations' services into a virtual platform permits larger technology companies to reduce a clinic's manual labor, costs and processing rates, Becker said.
Rather than solving for a single problem, as a smaller startups would, companies like Microsoft, Google and Amazon are taking a platform approach, said Paddy Padmanabhan, founder and CEO of Damo Consulting,
According to a CB Insights 2020 healthcare survey, 7% of respondents said Microsoft would likely have the biggest impact on the healthcare industry. Nearly 40% of respondents chose Amazon, and 24% of respondents chose Google.
While many companies are raising tens and hundreds of millions of dollars to create digital health solutions, the funds can dry up quickly if they don't receive any market traction, Padmanabhan said, adding that the real question is where these startups will be in several years.
"We underestimate what the traditional technology folks can actually do," he said. "They have a great deal of staying power, they have a lot of money, they can stay invested."