Microsoft’s big telemedicine move

What a time for telemedicine. Just a few days before Google officially shuttered its Helpoutstelehealth initiative, rival Microsoft revealed an effort all its own.

But there’s one notable difference: While Google’s Helpouts telemedicineessentially relied on “engaged and loyal” physician contributors, Microsoft’s video service will tap into MDLive’s physician network to offer telemedicine services to potentially millions of patients.

Under the partnership with Microsoft, MDLIVE will soon launch an app for the Windows Phone, and Microsoft will be offering Surface Pro 3 tablets on which users can access MDLIVE.

Microsoft acquired Skype several years ago and has been working to reinvent the ubiquitous, consumer-facing video service that’s used by some 300 million people globally.

Randy Parker, chief executive officer of Florida-based MDLIVE, said in an April 13 prepared statement that the partnership combines Microsoft’s “secure video and voice platform,” with MDLive’s “world class network of physicians.”

Microsoft’s chief health strategy officer Dennis Schmuland, MD, said the deal holds potential to reach “millions of patients”

Microsoft’s reinvention of Skype (and the integration of its own Lync Online platform) was seen by industry insiders as a bid to bring the popular, consumer-facing video chat service more in line with business needs – especially for healthcare.

Until that time, Skype wasn’t considered a secure enough platform on which to practice telemedicine – a point made clearly in 2013 when Oklahoma’s state medical board disciplined a doctor for using Skype to conduct patient visits.

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