SAS, Microsoft to Build Deep Technology Integrations for Advanced Health Analytics

Mabel R. Acton

Global analytics leader SAS and Microsoft are working together to build deep technology integrations, making advanced health analytics more accessible to health care and life science organizations. 

The collaboration boosts health care interoperability by enabling the use of Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®) standards and through integration from Azure Health Data Services to SAS Health on Azure.

Microsoft recently announced the availability of Azure Health Data Services, a platform as a service (PaaS) offering designed to support Protected Health Information (PHI) in the cloud. By connecting to Azure Health Data Services, the embedded AI capabilities of SAS Health are more efficient and secure, expanding the possibilities of patient-centric innovation and trusted collaboration across the health landscape.

Future of health care data exchange is on FHIR

Global adoption of the FHIR industry data standard – which defines how health care information can be exchanged between different computer systems – is growing. Major electronic health record (EHR) companies are moving quickly to support FHIR, and in the US, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has mandated its use.

The Azure Health Data Services API model allows the transfer of FHIR data to Azure’s robust PaaS infrastructure. The harmonized FHIR datasets persisting on Azure Health Data Services enable FHIR-based requests of specific data, speeding up queries to near-real time and protecting patient data.

Transformative analytical experience in the health cloud

Secure health cloud environments like Azure Health Data Services present the opportunity for real-time integration of patient and claims data. The platform hosts both transactional and analytical workloads from the same data store and enables cloud computing to transform the development and delivery of AI across the health care ecosystem.

A game changer for the health landscape

The collaboration between SAS and Microsoft Azure offers integrated technology that is secure, fast and scalable for health care delivery and research stakeholders, including:

  • Providers. SAS Health on FHIR gives speedy access to analytic insights within EHRs, parsing out only the information needed. Quality care and patient satisfaction increase when providers can integrate data across multiple estates and record types, including patient records and claims data, into a single view.
  • Payers. Payers governed by CMS are already mandated to transition to FHIR-based communication standards and experiencing early wins. With FHIR, payers can securely query patient records to determine the medical necessity of a service or procedure and whether appropriate authorization was obtained, cutting time spent dramatically.
  • Academic health researchers. For clinical research, data sharing can be a common, time-consuming obstacle. FHIR-ready data sets can accelerate the generation of new health insights and expand the universe of data types for research, including social determinants of health, real-world data, genetics, device data from the internet of medical things and more.
  • Life sciences. As the availability and usage of real-world data increases, FHIR-based interoperability enables pharma companies to generate new intelligence on drug safety and efficacy on a broader data set than previously available.

Steve Kearney, PharmD, Global Medical Director at SAS
The lack of data standardization in the industry has trapped health insights in functional silos. Providers and payers alike struggle to manually reconcile incompatible file formats, which slow the transfer of information and negatively impacts quality care and patient experience.

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