HealthBlog

Thoughts, comments, news, and reflections about healthcare IT from Microsoft's worldwide health senior director Bill Crounse, MD, on how information technology can improve healthcare delivery and services around the world.

Microsoft Health at Med-e-Tel

Microsoft Health at Med-e-Tel

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Lux Village I'm back in the saddle after a whirl-wind tour of duty at Med-e-Tel in Luxembourg (followed by bit of vacation).  Luxembourg may not be the easiest place in the world to get to in Europe, but I would highly recommend the annual Med-e-Tel conference.  Under the auspices of the Luxembourg Ministry of Health and Ministry of Economy, the event brings together hundreds of thought leaders and advocates for tele-medicine, eHealth and Health ICT from around the world.

It was my honor to speak during the opening keynote general session with government and industry luminaries.  It was also a good time to catch up with colleagues like Dr. Joseph Kvedar of the Center for Connected Health at Partners Healthcare System and David Whitlinger of the Continua Health Alliance among others.  Once again, as I perused the exhibit floor, I was struck by the degree of interest in eHealth in Europe and the advances being made,  Perhaps it is because of the greater socialized construct of healthcare in Europe, or maybe because governments there just seem to be more enlightened. Whatever the case, the Europeans are investing heavily in technologies to improve the delivery of health information and certain kinds of medical services electronically.

On another front, while I was away I received an e-mail that a series of interviews I did a few weeks ago for The Doctors Channel were now live on the web.  If you're a clinician, you'll want to check out The Doctors Channel; what some are calling "the YouTube for doctors".

During my interviews, conducted by TDC founders Drs. David Best and Michael Banks, we discuss my career (how I ended up at Microsoft), how the Internet is impacting patient care, and some of the new health industry solutions and initiatives for both clinicians and consumers now underway here at Microsoft such as HealthVault.  Just click on the links below.

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    My Career                         The Internet                   Microsoft Health

Bill Crounse, MD     Senior Director, Worldwide Health     Microsoft Corporation

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  • Last week I had posted about Ozmosis and the Doctor's Channel and the teamwork between both sites

  • Congratulations on your speaking engagement, Dr. Crounse.  I love Luxembourg; I haven't been there for many years and hope that one day you'll add a Microsoft Live Spaces photo album to your blog here so that I can live vicariously!

    I'd be interested in how the EU is planning on dealing with the wide variations in language among its member countries for pan-European tele-health organizations, especially those that do actual telephone-based triage as opposed to Web-based.  Given the range of languages and dialects in the Benelux countries, I'd imagine that this issue has already received a good deal of attention from individual countries.

    Do you know if there are any VoiceXML applications that are anywhere near as effective as Google's online (text-based) translator, for example?  In the market that the healthcare organization I work for serves, we have a very large Arabic-speaking minority, but few if any customer service agents or clinical case workers who are fluent in the language.  

    Online or voice-enabled tools that would allow our systems to interact with these folks in their native language would give us a competitive advantage in targeting our Arab population for services, which would be good since they buck local demographic trends and tend to be disproportionately younger, healthier, entrepreneurial, and have larger families.

  • Thanks for writing, Jeff.  I asked one of my colleagues who works at Microsoft Research, Steve Richardson, to repond to your comments/questions.  Here is what he had to say:

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    Our group is responsible for the Windows Live Translator (http://translator.live.com), but at this point, it is all text-based.  Speech-to-speech translation is recognized as almost the hardest of all problems in our field.  The problem is that text-to-text is hard enough, and the best systems often give only approximate translations, unless they’ve been tuned to do better in a specific subject domain, like the version of our system used to translate the CSS knowledge base at support.microsoft.com.  Add the error rate inherent in speech recognition systems, and you end up multiplying the effects of the individual systems’ inaccuracies.  Now, having said that, speech to speech MT systems have been built for specific narrow contexts (e.g., travel reservations), which do reasonably well, and I can certainly imagine someone building one for the medical application.  But to answer your question specifically, no such system will have the *breadth* of translation ability that Goggle’s or anyone else’s text based translation systems will have.  And by the way, while Goggle’s text translation system does well in Chinese and Arabic because of the focus on defense-oriented research over the years, for the major European languages, our system (and others, most of which use the Systran MT system under the covers) is just as good or better.

    Also, our focus has been on consumer apps, and not specific verticals, but we certainly do have the components to address verticals.

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    Thanks again Jim for writing and thank you Steve for addressing Jim's question.

    Bill Crounse, MD

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