SAS Health partners with Microsoft for advanced health analytics with interoperable platform

Global analytics provider SAS Health is teaming up with Microsoft to make advanced health analytics more accessible with the tech giant’s new health data services platform.

The partnership will leverage Microsoft’s Azure Health Data Services platform to make SAS Health’s AI tools more efficient and secure to power data exchange and analytics, according to the companies.

Providers can use the integrated technologies to parse out necessary patient information within the electronic health record to produce insights, while payers can use the analytics capabilities to determine the medical necessity of a procedure. Microsoft and SAS Health say the partnership has data-sharing applications for researchers and life sciences organizations, too.

"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," said Steve Kearney, global medical director at SAS Health, in a statement. "The integration between Azure Health Data Services and SAS Health can be transformational for organizations that have struggled to operationalize analytics. The use of diverse health data throughout the process of care in a shared cloud environment enables a clearer path from analytics to improved health care outcomes."

Microsoft launched the health data services platform in March to ingest, manage and transform clinical, imaging and medtech data in the cloud.

The platform-as-a-service offering uses the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources and Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine standards for protected health information.

It’s the latest addition to the tech giant’s healthcare cloud offerings, building on Microsoft’s interoperability services first introduced with the launch of its Azure API in 2019.

"Ultimately, these innovations in health data analytic interoperability can make insights faster across the vast ecosystem of professionals who are committed to a healthier world," said Kearney. "While technology is only one part of the solution, improving health begins with predicting future health risks and taking proactive steps to mitigate disease and promote physical and mental wellness."

Federal regulatory bodies are making headway in healthcare interoperability as the need for patient analytics demands open data exchange.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ (CMS') Interoperability and Patient Access rule, issued in 2020, took effect July 1, 2021, to require Medicaid, Medicare Advantage, CHIP and qualified health plans to make enrollee data immediately accessible and give patients greater access to their health information.

However, Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said during a presentation at HIMSS 2022 that CMS was working on additional rules to augment the payer data exchange policy to require standardized application programming interfaces, or APIs, which he identified as a missing piece of the rule.