Video chat has become a more essential part of medicine during the coronavirus crisis.


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The coronavirus has already upended the way we live and work, as millions of people shelter in place to slow the spread of the viral pandemic. Hospitals in particular have had to change the way they care for patients, relying more heavily on video chat technology to help keep patients and doctors safe. Microsoft says its technology can help even more.

The software giant said Tuesday it’s building new software to help doctors and hospitals, called Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare. The new programs will help hospitals schedule and perform virtual health care visits. Microsoft said its new software will also work with many existing apps and electronic medical records. The company, which announced the move as part of its Build developers conference, will offer a public preview of its Cloud for Healthcare on May 19, with release planned for the fall.


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The move is the latest effort by the tech giant to help medical staff and hospitals mange the challenges that come from treating the coronavirus. Throughout this crisis, frontline workers, hospitals and US government administrators have warned of low supplies of personal protective equipment, or PPE, such as masks, gowns and face shields. Hospitals have also had to shutter much of their business since March, canceling elective surgeries and keeping nonemergency patients away as medical staff treat COVID-19 patients. The coronavirus has killed more than 90,000 patients in the US and infected more than 1.5 million people since it was first detected late last year.

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Seeing a doctor increasingly means seeing them through a computer screen.


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Microsoft has already been working with some hospitals to bring its technology to health care workers and emergency rooms. At St. Luke’s University Health Network, doctors are using video chat to remotely see about 3,000 patients a day, which is half what the hospital normally does, but up from almost none before the coronavirus outbreak. SLUHN is also using video chat in intensive care units, giving doctors a way to check in on coronavirus patients without having to use up too much PPE in the process.

Other tech companies are working with hospitals as well. Google, for instance, has partnered with Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City to remotely communicate with coronavirus patientsĀ in hospital rooms. Google’s planning to offer 10,000 Nest cameras to hospitals across the country.

Microsoft said the health care tools also mark a new initiative from the company to produce industry-specific software packages that bring together its various database, file management and video chat programs.

The information contained in this article is for educational and informational purposes only and is not intended as health or medical advice. Always consult a physician or other qualified health provider regarding any questions you may have about a medical condition or health objectives.

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