Scaling for the future of ophthalmology with artificial intelligence powered by Azure Healthcare APIs

Disconnected medical data sets are everywhere. Particularly in the imaging segment, the growth in the number of devices, data size, and types of data being captured is breaking the traditional systems for managing data on-premises. Many companies are turning to the cloud for scale, but the smart ones are choosing purpose-built health technology that goes beyond just pushing data to a lake for storage or consolidation. Leaders in the imaging industry like ZEISS are focused on innovation that’s purpose-built for healthcare, choosing cloud technology that allows for interoperability to connect and exchange data in the cloud through open standards to enable scalability for the future of AI.

As one of the world’s largest providers of ophthalmology devices and software, ZEISS manages one of the broadest imaging device footprints in the world. Dominated by thousands of boutique clinics, data in ophthalmology is siloed, un-shareable, and often captured in such small amounts that at first pass it looks virtually unusable for AI and machine learning. But as ZEISS embraced the cloud, they sought to build a system that would allow them to not only bring DICOM data to the cloud but to make it easier to generate insights for predictive and preventative care with that data. In the process, they found that focusing on data interoperability in the cloud is now opening the doors to enable improved patient outcomes and research new treatment processes.

Unlock integrated medical data with Azure Healthcare APIs and AI

ZEISS partnered with Microsoft to power the ZEISS Medical Ecosystem with the Azure Healthcare APIs. ZEISS Meditec is collaborating with ZEISS Digital Innovation as the implementation partner for the data platform and multiple ecosystem applications. ZEISS Digital Innovation is a provider of custom software development services, implementing and operating innovative digital healthcare solutions for the ZEISS group and clients outside ZEISS. 
Azure Healthcare APIs allow for data to be standardized and exchanged between devices across the world while leveraging Microsoft's geo-support for data residency requirements. The Healthcare APIs are a platform-as-a-service solution, the capabilities come with little implementation cost and effort for ZEISS and can be used out of the box. Clinical data created during patient registrations, planning, visits, and operations is no longer siloed on individual devices or consolidated into a disconnected database but can be connected to other systems, datasets, and applications that enable streamlined workflows for clinical planning, education, and optimization of clinical procedures.

“This fully-connected platform will continue to expand our integrated workflow solutions, adding value for the customer and enabling new ways to maximize clinical efficiency and performance,” said Euan S. Thomson, Ph.D., President of Ophthalmic Devices and Head of the Digital Business Unit for Carl Zeiss Meditec. “The power of digital technologies, data management, and a range of new applications will create an environment of connectivity, automation, artificial intelligence, and safe and efficient management of data, enabling improved results for patients. I truly believe that the digital ecosystem will provide opportunities to improve the efficiency of healthcare delivery and ultimately, quality of life for our customers’ patients.”

Improve clinical workflows and patient experiences

The DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine) service in the Azure Healthcare APIs is where data begins its path from clinic to cloud. Nearly every medical device speaks DICOM, including the ophthalmology devices commonly used by ZEISS customers. Through an extendable connectivity solution, based on Azure IoT Edge, data and legacy devices can be quickly integrated, easing adoption and data flow in the cloud. Historic measurement data from on-premises PACS solutions and other clinical systems can also be connected. ZEISS leverages FHIR® (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) for structured data exchange, which enables an easy-to-use interface for their own applications and interoperability with third-party systems like electronic medical records.

As they look to scale AI, ZEISS is poised for rapid creation of new solutions. Data can pass seamlessly from one ZEISS device to another using artificial-intelligence-powered applications and software tools. AI will enable digital referrals and enhance the decision-making process with image analysis. Providers using ZEISS technology look to support widespread screening programs and ophthalmological exams to drive early diagnosis, improved tracking for disease progression, and a reduction in the need for clinical intervention with remote patient monitoring.

The ultimate goal is to enable more frequent imaging for patients, even extending data capture to in-home imaging. This helps providers get more data about their patients in a non-intrusive manner, allows for nuanced analysis, and ultimately, personalization for the patient care pathway.

Additional resources

Learn more about Azure Healthcare APIs and the Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

®FHIR is a registered trademark of Health Level Seven International, registered in the U.S. Trademark Office and are used with their permission.

Source: Azure Blog Feed

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