120 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR E Empowering public health services In the face of a global pandemic and increasingly demanding patient needs, Microsoft’s David Rhew shares how technology can deliver virtual care experiences and accelerate the distribution of a vaccine for Covid-19 BY E L LY YAT E S - ROB E R T S B etween 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 years of age will nearly double from 12 per cent to 22 per cent, according to theWorldHealthOrganization. “As we age, our ability to live independently, safely and confidently in our home diminishes,” says David Rhew, global chief medical officer and vice president of healthcare at Microsoft. This change can occur gradually, over several years, due to progressive decline of physical and cognitive capabilities. Or it can be sudden and dramatic, such as after a stroke, heart attack or major fall. Either way, ageing in a safe and familiar location continues to be one of the most impor- tant goals for those affected and their caregivers. Rhew believes that technology can enable this. But he says there are important barriers that need to be addressed for technology to be widely adopted by seniors. “The first involves making adjustments to the technology to accommodate decreased func- tional capabilities due to age, injury or illness,” says Rhew. “Microsoft has increased its focus on accessibility in recent years, developing digital tools that are designed to assist individuals with decreased function due to diminished vision, hearing, cognition, mobility, and/or mental well-being. “The second barrier involves shifting the set- ting of the care delivery from the clinic to the home. This is not only a matter of convenience, but with more frequent assessments of the health status through home monitoring and virtual vis- its, the care team can closely assess the progress that seniors are making towards their healthcare goals and intervene when necessary.” Rhew says Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare, launched in October 2020, provides a highly secure platform that enables remote patient monitoring, virtual visits and streamlined and coordinated care across the care continuum. “Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare is designed around the principle that the best healthcare expe- riences start with understanding you and where you are on your healthcare journey,” explains Rhew. “And through that understanding comes actionable insights, which need to be coordinated across the care team and care continuum.