Unlocking innovative solutions for patient care at home with Azure | Azure blog and…


This post was co-authored by Stuart Bailey, Product Director, Capita Healthcare Decisions

This blog is part of a series in collaboration with our partners and customers using the newly announced Azure Health Data Services. Azure Health data servicesa platform-as-a-service (PaaS) offering built solely to support protected health information (PHI) in the cloud, is a new way of working with unified data that provides care teams with a platform to deliver both transactional and to support analytical workloads from the same data store and enable cloud computing to transform the way we design and deliver AI across the healthcare ecosystem.

As pressure on the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) continues to mount, so does the need for safe and effective home health care. Head Home is a remote patient monitoring (RPM) solution that aims to streamline current home care for patients and their healthcare and caregivers.

The NHS is currently experiencing the most severe pressure in its 70-year history as an already strained system is stretched beyond its limits by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.1 In hospitals, the number of available general and acute care beds has been declining since 20102and it has been estimated that up to 15 percent of beds are used by people awaiting care3. Finding innovative ways to alleviate these pressures remains crucial to supporting the NHS’ recovery.

To find solutions to this challenge, a key area that needs to be addressed is facilitating more efficient patient discharge and home care. Patient surveys have long shown that most older people prefer to be cared for at home, and recent research from Oxford University has found that this can improve patient outcomes and satisfaction, while helping to ease hospital pressure.4 This approach is known as “hospital-at-home” and its use has been accelerated by the pandemic. Hospital-at-home aims to enable healthcare and caregivers to remotely monitor and communicate patients from their homes while helping healthcare organizations free up vital resources. However, while wearable devices such as temperature monitors, pulse monitors, blood pressure monitors and even heart monitors are readily available, solutions that allow remote monitoring are less common and the hospital-at-home approach is currently limited to expensive, difficult-to-maintain equipment and custom manufacturer software.

This is largely due to the fact that in a siled healthcare industry, data is still stored locally and there is a lack of interoperability between those local systems. Disparate datasets are collected from a variety of wearables without a unified solution to manage them, making it difficult for providers to access patient data collected from wearable devices in the home in a timely manner. This causes delays in patient monitoring and treatment plan formulation as patients leave the hospital, making remote patient monitoring and treatment unavailable.

To solve this problem, Microsoft has released Azure Health data services, a suite of purpose-built Protected Health Information (PHI) technologies in the cloud based on the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR)® and Digital Imaging Communications in Medicine (DICOM) global open standards. This solution enables providers to unify and manage data in a trusted cloud, making it possible to standardize diverse data streams such as clinical, imaging, device and unstructured data using FHIR, DICOM and MedTech services. Data collected from different wearables and in different formats can be ingested and stored in Azure Health Data Services, allowing data to be managed in one place, reducing the need for software from multiple vendors. It allows providers to view the standardized data in context with other clinical datasets, supporting the goal of moving from reactive care to proactive care while reducing costs and enabling a more effective and personalized approach to home care.

Extend healthcare support with Azure Health Data Services

Aiming to enable the hospital-at-home approach to better support patients and ease existing pressure on the NHS, Capita Healthcare Decisions leverages Microsoft Azure Health Data Services, which enable healthcare professionals and patients to integrate patient data into to manage the cloud. Head Home by Capita is a remote patient monitoring (RPM) solution that allows health indicators of patients to be monitored by health and care workers from their homes. Personalized health indicator thresholds can be set via Head Home, ensuring that when a patient’s condition changes, the care team is notified via the provider’s preferred interface (SMS, push notification). This allows health and care workers to respond appropriately and in a timely manner, while giving patients peace of mind that they will be cared for should their well-being change. Head Home can currently support blood oxygen, heart rate, body temperature, respiratory rate, blood pressure and single-lead ECG monitoring, ensuring a number of key health indicators can be effectively monitored in a hospital at home.

In addition to the indicator monitoring and alert system, Head Home allows patients to speak to a personal assistant via the voice interface to communicate with their care team, ensuring a better connection for patients cared for at home. This type of communication between a patient and their healthcare and caregivers has been shown to be critical to recovery and helps develop trust and transparency throughout the caregiving process. These verbal communications are recorded in the Head Home dashboard along with notes from patient appointments and check-ins, helping to improve clinical documentation and efficiency.

The hospital-to-home model envisions providing faster access to appropriate and targeted care in people’s homes, introducing the right digital infrastructure to leverage systemic benefits and reduce the backlog of elective services. With Head Home, Capita Healthcare Decisions has pioneered a digital solution that enables physicians to support patient recovery at home by providing a more connected, real-time monitoring solution while reducing the need for healthcare resources.

As an existing provider of clinical decision support software, Capita Healthcare Decisions uses Azure Health Data Services to store healthcare data in the cloud. This enables fast data exchange supported by a PaaS offering on a trusted cloud. Additionally, Azure Health Data Services enable Capita Healthcare Decisions to ingest patient data from wearables vendors (HealthKit and Google Fit) and device aggregators for persistence and analysis, opening new opportunities to drive new research insights and improve patient care. By integrating with a variety of IoMT (Internet of Medical Things) devices and using voice interfaces for personal assistants, Capita Healthcare Decisions aims to provide an accessible and easy-to-use service that provides the monitoring needed to keep patients safe and in their care at home. By using the FHIR standard, Capita Healthcare Decisions leverages the power of an open source standard that will evolve with the science of healthcare and enable interoperability with data flows in existing healthcare systems. The interfaces that reside between the monitors themselves and Capita Healthcare Decisions’ intuitive monitoring platform allow these readily available, relatively inexpensive devices to be easily deployed at scale. By providing these complementary features, Head Home helps create a more viable hospital environment.

At a time when NHS resources are being stretched to new levels, innovative technology platforms like Head Home offer a much-needed solution. Leveraging Microsoft Azure Health Data Services, Capital Healthcare Decisions offers a flexible way to remotely monitor patients’ health and ensure care is delivered safely and effectively at home, with the associated potential, outcomes and improve patient satisfaction and reduce healthcare delivery costs.

Do more with your data with Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare

With Azure Health Data Services, healthcare organizations can transform their patient experience, gain new insights with the power of machine learning and AI, and manage PHI data with confidence. Enable your data for the future of healthcare innovation with Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare.

We look forward to being your partner as you shape the future of health.


®FHIR is a registered trademark of Health Level Seven International registered with the US Trademark Office and is used with permission.

1An NHS under pressure. (2021). The British Medical Association is the union and professional body for doctors in the United Kingdom.

2The number of hospital beds. (2021, November 5). The King’s Fund.

3NHS: Up to 15 per cent of hospital beds are used by people awaiting care. Pollock, BI (2021, November 18). BBC News.

4 A study shows that caring for older people at home can be just as good – or even better – than caring for them in a hospital. The University of Oxford. (nd). www.ox.ac.uk.

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