Microsoft plans to roll out a version of its cloud-based software that will be modified to suit the needs of healthcare organisations.
While Microsoft is known for general productivity software such as Outlook and the chat app Teams, it also makes more specialised business software such as programs used by customer service agents and artificial intelligence tools that software developers can use to make chat bots.
Microsoft said it will pull all of its technologies together into a package it calls "Microsoft Cloud for Healthcare." The system will allow hospitals to maintain data throughout an interaction with a patient.
For example, a patient might first visit a health care organisation's patient portal website. The initial questions would be answered by a chatbot that has been programmed by health care professionals, but then handed off to a service agent who could ask more questions and schedule a virtual visit with a nurse or doctor. That visit could then be held over Microsoft Teams video chat.
If the patient then comes to a clinic in person for a follow-up visit, all the data from the previous interactions will be available to the health care professional who sees the patient.
"We want to carry all that information through the health experience," Deb Cupp, Microsoft's corporate vice president of enterprise and commercial industries, told Reuters in an interview.
Microsoft also said it plans to make the system work with electronic health record software providers such as Allscripts Healthcare Solutions Inc.
Microsoft said it aims to offer the healthcare system as a free trial over the next six months. It also plans more industry-specific cloud software offerings in the future, but it did not say which industries it planned to target.
(Reporting by Stephen Nellis in San Francisco; editing by Richard Pullin)