The healthcare industry across Asia is adapting to the new conditions brought on by COVID-19, and overcoming challenges to better support those in need.

Managing the spread of COVID-19 continues to be an uphill battle globally, and the healthcare sector is facing extreme pressure in light of the growing demand for patient care.

Technology has come to the forefront – to address new challenges, support frontline workers and the need for vital medical resources, while enabling safe personalized care for patients.

Technology giant Microsoft is working with its partners and customers, helping them to leverage technology to better respond to the challenges, ensure employees safety, continued support for the communities they serve, and develop treatments and ways to mitigate the spread of the virus.

Most recently, Microsoft launched a groundbreaking ImmuneCODE database to share population-wide immune response to the virus and accelerate global efforts toward better diagnostics and treatment, in partnership with biotechnology leaders.

Enabling safe personalized care

HealthCare Global (HCG), India’s largest provider of cancer care, has adopted Teams Virtual Consult. Doctors now schedule and conduct virtual consultations with patients who can receive the necessary care from the safety of their homes.

Fortis Healthcare introduced tele-consultations which have proved helpful for expectant mothers, and individuals with mental health issues, who need continuous treatment and high-frequency care.

Ensuring on-demand patient care with telemedicine and self-service channels for patients

Austin Health, a Melbourne-based healthcare provider, introduced COVID-Care, an AI self-assessment tool developed with Microsoft Azure, for recovering home patients to reduce pressure on the healthcare system’s capacity and reduce risk of transmission.

Facilitating collaboration for medical experts

Sichuan’s Huili County People’s Hospital and Chengdu’s Third People’s Hospital deployed Microsoft’s remote consultation platform for patients in remote areas. Doctors leverage Surface, Azure, and AI to carry out remote online consultations and discussions with fellow experts to discuss cases.

Austin Health deployed Teams in under two weeks to support collaboration among 8,500 staff, and enable the necessary, multi-disciplinary meetings between the specialists of various department to continue in real time.

Securing access to medical supplies

Zuellig Pharma, one of the largest healthcare services groups in Asia, launched their 24/7 interactive engagement portal on Azure to assist their customers with placing orders for drugs or consumer health products anytime, anywhere.

They will soon launch a new telemedicine system, eZConsult, that has an AI chatbot and can connect doctors and patients remotely for virtual consultations.

Re-channeling resources to improve efficiencies of healthcare organizations

Taipei’s Yonghe Cardinal Tien Hospital engaged first-line protection via a “2-in-1” detection device, harnessing data, AI, and machine learning.

It scans individuals entering the hospital’s lobby and keep authorities updated with real-time monitoring.

Supporting efforts in finding a cure

Mobilization of  AI for Health initiative with $20 million dedicated to help in research, where Microsoft’s data scientists can best contribute: data and insights; treatment and diagnostics; allocation of resources; dissemination of accurate information; and scientific research.

Partnership with ATGENOMIX, a startup in Taiwan that is providing virus genome sequencing technology, which runs on Azure HPC, to speed up research and healthcare analysis, and support vaccine development.

Dr. Keren Priyadarshini, Regional Business Lead, Worldwide Health, Microsoft Asia, said: “The response to the COVID-19 pandemic is stretching health care systems across the Asia Pacific region and around the world. The infrastructure and supply chains of health care providers are being challenged, and our health care front-liners work tirelessly to provide treatment and support in a time of unprecedented demand for patient care.”

If there is one question on the minds of those at the pandemic’s front-line, she believes it is most likely: “Can we do more with less?”

She added: “It is crucial to speed up routine tasks and services, especially during this time when a growing number of patients and limited resources can quickly overwhelm staff. We have seen how collaboration with customers and partners has taken on a speed and agility that we’ve not encountered before and how new cloud-based solutions, often leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, can do much to augment the work of doctors, nurses and first responders.”

Dr. Keren Priyadarshini