Allscripts, Microsoft strike 5-year cloud partnership to enhance EHR software

Allscripts is extending its partnership with Microsoft to use the tech giant's cloud technology to enhance its electronic health record (EHR) software.

The new five-year strategic partnership will support Allscripts’ cloud-based Sunrise EHR, making Microsoft the cloud provider for the solution and opening up co-innovation opportunities with a focus on developing smarter, more scalable technology, the companies said.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed.

"We're bringing together the capabilities and expertise of both companies—Allscripts' expertise in EHRs and Microsoft's cloud technology to deliver better tools to enhance healthcare and ultimately improve the patient experience," Lisa Khorey, Allscripts’ chief client delivery officer, told Fierce Healthcare.

Allscripts clients will begin to see these updates by the end of 2020, the company said.

As part of the contract extension, Allscripts will use the tech giant's technology tools including Microsoft Azure, Microsoft Teams, and Power BI, a business analytics tool, to create a more seamless and highly productive user experience for physicians.

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To develop the new technology tools, teams from Microsoft and Allscripts followed physicians around for days—virtually, because of the COVID-19 pandemic—and wrote down how they worked, Khorey said.

"We created a virtual workflow using Microsoft cloud that mimics how physicians work and that accommodates interruptions if you have to leave something half done and come back to it later and also anticipates what the user wants to do next. The feedback we got from that was 'How fast can I have this?'" Khorey said.

What physicians dislike about EHRs is that the software is too rigid, she said. "The art of practicing medicine is not rigid, it has to be fluid," she noted.

Microsoft and Allscripts are developing what she calls a "next-generation EHR" that enables physicians to move between devices and creates a more human-centric experience.

"It’s a bold move. Everybody wants a different and better EMR, but it’s a lot of work. We looked at the way medicine should use technology and built it with Microsoft," she said.

In October, the health IT vendor announced a partnership with New York City-based Northwell Health to develop a cloud-hosted, voice-enabled, artificial intelligence-based EHR.

The alliance between Allscripts and Microsoft will focus on delivering the cloud-based Sunrise solution to hospitals and health systems, while Allscripts' partnership with Northwell Health is more focused on developing a new EHR for physician practices, the company said.

Amazon, Microsoft, and Google are investing to win healthcare cloud business. These deals enable the companies to combine the data and expertise of healthcare companies with tech giants’ engineering know-how and computing power.

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Allscripts competitor Cerner inked a deal with cloud giant Amazon Web Services last year to accelerate healthcare innovation. As part of the agreement, Cerner named AWS its preferred cloud provider.

In September, Mayo Clinic struck a sweeping partnership with Google to use the tech giant's cloud platform to accelerate innovation through digital technologies.

Sunrise is an integrated EHR that connects acute, ambulatory, surgical, pharmacy, radiology, and laboratory services including an integrated revenue cycle and patient administration system.

Working with Microsoft, Allscripts' Sunrise EHR will offer added benefits beyond the on-premise version to help improve organizational effectiveness, solution interoperability, clinician ease of use, and improved patient experience, Allscripts said.

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Patty Obermaier, Microsoft's vice president of U.S. health and life sciences, told Fierce Healthcare that Microsoft is looking to leverage its deep capabilities in speech recognition and machine learning technologies and analytics to modernize the Sunrise EHR product.

“At Microsoft, we believe the future of healthcare is an interoperable one, where cloud-enabled solutions will be critical in putting patients fully in charge of their own healthcare information. With this collaboration, Allscripts is working to make that future a reality," Obermaier said.

Updates to the Sunrise product include expanded analytics and insights functionality that can integrate with connected devices and enhanced scalability and flexibility, Allscripts said.

The updates also provide the opportunity to add new capabilities quickly as business needs and the cloud evolve.

The EHR also will more tightly integrate with Microsoft productivity tools and the Teams app, which some health systems have been using for telehealth visits.

“The COVID-19 pandemic will forever change how healthcare is delivered, and provider organizations around the world must ensure they are powered by innovative, interoperable, comprehensive, and lower-cost IT solutions that meet the demands of our new normal,” said Paul Black, Allscripts' CEO, in a statement.

“Healthcare delivery is no longer defined by location—providers need to have the capability to reach patients where they are to truly deliver the care they require. Cloud solutions, mobile options, telehealth functionality—these are the foundational tools for not just the future of healthcare, but the present," Black said