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Duke Health, Microsoft to Collaborate on AI Innovation

Analysis  |  By Eric Wicklund  
   August 01, 2023

The two organizations, members of the Coalition for Health AI, have forged a five-year partnership built around the new Duke Health AI Innovation Lab and Center of Excellence.

Duke Health and Microsoft are aiming to get ahead of the AI wave with the launch of an AI Innovation Lab and Center of Excellence.

The two organizations announced a five-year partnership this week "aimed at responsibly and ethically harnessing the potential of generative artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud technology to redefine the healthcare landscape."

The news comes as healthcare organizations across the globe are experimenting with AI and as federal and state governments, tech firms, and health systems grapple with how to oversee the technology. Just last month, the White House and the heads of several major tech companies—including Microsoft—announced a non-binding commitment to responsibly govern how AI is developed and used.

The Duke-Microsoft collaboration aims to give the healthcare industry a place to forge those standards.

"The partnership is a milestone in the evolution of digital healthcare," Jeffrey Ferranti, MD, senior vice president and chief digital officer of Duke Health, said in a press release. "Our unrivaled expertise in data science, patient care, and technology innovation synergizes perfectly with Microsoft's healthcare solutions and AI technology. Together, we are poised to propel Duke into the forefront of digitally focused health systems, while simultaneously studying the reliability and safety of generative AI in healthcare."

[See also: Will Policy, Regulation Issues Stifle AI's Advances in Healthcare?]

Through the partnership, Duke Health will use Microsoft's Azure cloud platform to develop AI-based programs to support healthcare services, both administrative and clinical.

Duke Health and Microsoft are members of the Coalition for Health AI (CHAI), which in April unveiled a Blueprint for Trustworthy AI Implementation Guidance and Assurance for Healthcare. The 24-page document builds on the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy's (OSTP) Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights and the AI Risk Management Framework (AI RMF 1.0) developed by the US Commerce Department's National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

“Microsoft is excited to collaborate with Duke Health to operationalize responsible AI principles, helping to ensure that AI is deployed safely, effectively, and in an unbiased and transparent manner,” David Rhew, MD, Microsoft's global chief medical officer and vice president of healthcare, said in the press release. “Together we will apply the latest Microsoft technologies to expedite and scale Duke Health’s nationally recognized model of AI governance. By sharing best practices and lessons learned, we hope other organizations will benefit from our experience.”

Microsoft is also looking to get a handle on telehealth applications. Last month, the company announced a partnership with Teladoc to use AI to help streamline administrative challenges and documentation in virtual care.  

Eric Wicklund is the associate content manager and senior editor for Innovation, Technology, and Pharma for HealthLeaders.


Healthcare organizations are experimenting with AI technology at a frantic pace, with goals to improve back-office automation and clinical outcomes.

Microsoft and Duke Health are joining forces to create a center of excellence, where they'll aim to develop and test new programs as well as standards for responsible AI use.

The announcement comes just a week after Microsoft joined several tech firms at the White House to hammer out a non-binding agreement on responsible AI development.

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