Microsoft and Walgreens announced today that they will be teaming up to help improve health care. The companies have entered into a seven-year agreement during which Walgreens plans to migrate most of its IT infrastructure over to Microsoft’s Azure cloud services. Microsoft is also providing Microsoft 365, a package of Windows 10 and Microsoft Office, to the 380,000 employees working at Walgreens stores around the world.
The two companies have set a vague goal to “transform health care delivery,” though the details on how they will achieve it are mostly vague. It mostly boils down to making data more accessible. The companies believe they can make information more readily available, it will enable more solutions that don’t require going to the doctor. That may take the form of virtual care or may be as simple as using a connected device to remind a person to take their medication each day. Essentially, it’s the simple stuff that can reduce emergency room visits and decrease instances of readmissions at hospitals.
Microsoft and Walgreens also have committed to a multi-year research and development investment to “build health care solutions, improve health outcomes and lower the cost of care.” They also plan on exploring the possibility of creating innovation centers, though didn’t go into detail on what those centers will do.
Microsoft’s move into health care follows Amazon’s major push into the field. Last year, the retail giant a partnered up with JPMorgan and Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to work toward tackling growing expenses associated with health care. Amazon also reportedly launched new software tools for medical centers that can mine for medical records to help cut costs.