Why healthcare needs a co-pilot more than ever

  • Posted on October 6, 2023
  • Estimated reading time 5 minutes
Microsoft copilot in healthcare

I’ve said before that Microsoft naming its new AI-powered productivity tool co-pilot was spot on. Even the best airline pilots need co-pilots to supply timely and pertinent information for safer, more efficient and smoother flights. Co-pilots gather all kinds of data and help with important decision-making before, during and after flights. Isn’t that exactly what we need in healthcare, where important decisions are made by clinicians, researchers and other healthcare industry workers at all stages of a patient’s journey?

Only months ago, we saw generative AI emerge with its ability to search massive swaths of data and summarize a succinct answer to your question in a matter of seconds. Now we have Microsoft Copilot that can sit with anyone on a connected device, ready to search for answers or provide pertinent information. Copilot is a way to consume and leverage generative AI efficiently and effectively. Copilot can even be made to listen to conversations and read materials to then call on generative AI to supply pertinent data, news and information you didn’t ask for or know you needed.

Now remember, Microsoft calls this Co-pilot, not “Auto-Pilot.” Nothing AI powered in healthcare should be enacted without a human with the right credentials. Keeping a human in the middle of all that’s happening with technology and AI is critical, and healthcare workers are not to be replaced. Rather they are to be more empowered, more informed and more efficient, translating to more facetime with patients.

Caution: Brains at work
Some healthcare and life science enterprises are already actioning the potential uses of generative AI for better outcomes, better patient experiences and better worker experiences. Others are waiting, watching and wondering how to and where to get started.

That’s where we come in. Our purpose at Avanade is to help our clients get the most value from their investments in technology and the Microsoft platform. We’re helping clients today leverage AI-powered technology and now Microsoft Copilot.

When considering what AI – and specifically Microsoft Copilot – can do for your organization, there are many, many use cases that in some ways are only limited by your imagination. A world full of data is literally at your fingertips and on your screen waiting to be queried. That said, some great examples in healthcare and life sciences are emerging. For example:

  • Copilot can automate data analysis and report generation, making it faster and more efficient to create reports based on medical data.

    Let's say a medical researcher wants to generate a report on patient data related to a particular disease. The researcher can input the relevant data into an Excel spreadsheet and use Copilot to generate a report based on that data. Copilot can analyze the data and synthesize a summary of the key findings, including charts and graphs to illustrate the data. The researcher can specify the format and style of the report, and Copilot will generate the report in that format.

  • Copilot can be used to track the progress of clinical trials. Because clinical trials are a critical part of the drug development process, accurately and comprehensively tracking their progress is important for healthcare professionals and researchers. With Copilot, they can use Excel to track the progress of clinical trials and generate natural language summaries of the data. At its most basic, a summary could include information on the number of patients enrolled, the treatment being tested, the duration of the trial, and any interim or results.

  • Microsoft Copilot for Office can convert medical reports from multiple sources into actionable data.

    It can be challenging to keep track of medical records of patients who have received treatment at different healthcare facilities, when the information may be scattered across different reports. With Copilot, healthcare professionals can extract relevant information from these various reports, using natural language processing, and convert it into structured data that can be imported into an Excel spreadsheet. The data can include the patient's name, age, diagnosis, treatment history, lab results, and imaging studies, among other things.

So how to get started?
Which brings us back to our foundational questions. How do we start? Is this the right time for us to begin? How do we know if we are ready to start?

To be up front, Avanade has been a Microsoft Global SI Partner of the Year 18 times. As a result of working so closely with this technology in many contexts, my colleagues at Avanade and I have some ideas. Here’s what I tell companies who ask me these questions:

From the start, a team of Avanade experts will walk you through the basics, including the most important one in the field of healthcare: the governance of responsible and secure use of AI technology and people’s personal information. Then, if you like, we’ll help you choose a use case, build it and proof it so that it achieves the goals you established.

All at the speed and in the way that works for you.

Meet 2x2x2
We have developed approaches and options that the companies we speak with tell us work well for them:

  • 2-hour learn and discuss: Introduction to Microsoft Copilot and the potential benefits to healthcare. Overview of AI capabilities and Microsoft product integration, capped with an open question and answer and use case brainstorming session.

  • 2-day hands-on workshop/design thinking: An onsite or remote workshop taking a deeper dive to clarify and prioritize your specific use cases, explore various journeys (e.g., provider, employee, patient) and address all aspects of building trust in AI operation and output.

  • 2-week proof of concept: Define and build a proof-of-concept project to prove the technology and its business value.

I’m proud to be part of a team vested in Microsoft technology and in healthcare and life sciences organizations. Together, we are helping clients safely and securely take advantage of the potential value that comes with Microsoft Copilot.

If you’d like to have a conversation about how to get started or get to the next level with AI-powered technologies, please contact us.

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