Posted On: January 4, 2012 @ 9:33 am Category: Interviews | Tags: ,

You’re going to want to find your way to the UnitedHealth Group booth at 5 p.m. on Wednesday, January 11. We’re closing out the second day of CES with a bang – a presentation by Dr. Bill Crounse of Microsoft in our own presentation space in booth #2833. Dr. Crounse, senior director of worldwide health at Microsoft, will be speaking on the most promising technologies and solutions that are transforming health and health care. Because there will be limited time after his presentation for questions, we sat down with Dr. Crounse before CES to ask a few of our own.

First, please tell our readers a bit about your role at Microsoft. What exactly does a senior director of worldwide health do?

In my role at Microsoft, I am responsible for providing worldwide thought leadership, vision, and strategy for Microsoft technologies and solutions in the health industry. This includes regular contributions to my blog, HealthBlog, and serving as the creator, executive producer and host for Microsoft’s online, on-demand video series at the intersection of health and information technology, Health Tech Today.

Gamification is a very hot topic these days. What makes it such an effective platform for helping people manage their health and wellness?

If you really want to engage consumers and patients in matters pertaining to their health, it certainly helps if you can make it fun and entertaining. It also has to be readily available, affordable and pretty intuitive. People love to play games, so if you can develop an application that will help someone track their fitness level, diet, weight or better monitor a chronic condition in a way that is easy and fun to do, there is a far better chance they’ll stick with it and reach their goal. And today, with so many options to bring creative, entertaining applications to the consumer on a gaming system, smartphone, tablet, PC, or television, why wouldn’t you want to use these devices to help people live better, healthier lives?

Tell us more about the “Kinect effect” and how the Kinect system is being used in the health care system?

I’ve never seen so much excitement about a new piece of technology as I’ve seen with Kinect for Xbox 360. And that excitement goes far beyond video games. Around the world, enthusiasts, clinicians and researchers are working on ways Kinect can be used to improve health. Right out of the box, Kinect is terrific because it gets people off the couch and gets them moving. There are so many wonderful games that families can play together. But beyond traditional gaming, Kinect is showing promise as a way to help people with physical, developmental or learning disabilities interact with a computer or play games. The device is also showing promise in all kinds of situations where people need to interact with information on a screen without having to touch anything, for example surgeons in an operating room. I think we’ll be seeing all kinds of applications for Kinect and Xbox 360 in health and health care.

Microsoft is putting Windows 8 front and center at CES next week. What impact might the new operating system have on health care?

That’s a big question and I’d have to write a tome to fully answer it. Briefly, Windows 8 will provide a great new platform for developers around the world to create compelling new applications and software solutions for the health industry. We work with more than 22,000 partners, large and small, who use our technologies to solve some of the most challenging issues in health and health care; from better ways to document clinical workflow to powerful tools that help clinicians analyze and gain insight from vast quantities of health data. Windows 8 will also provide better tools to help IT professionals manage the myriad of devices in their enterprise while maintaining the privacy and security standards that are so critical in a health care setting. Finally, the people who work in health care are consumers just like everyone else. They want to use solutions and devices that are powerful, contemporary, responsive, reliable and let’s face it, fun to use, just like anyone else. Windows 8 will certainly deliver on all of that and more.

As far as you can tell right now, what might be The Big Story (or two or three) that will come out of CES this year, related to health care?

For an answer to that one, I’ll refer you to a HealthBlog post I did right before the holidays, 4 leading trends and technologies that will transform health and health care in 2012 and beyond. Of course, as important as some of those technologies and trends might be, none of them will become widely adopted without some corresponding changes to our health care system itself, from the ways we pay for health care services to the ways we pay doctors for keeping us healthy.

Do you currently use any apps or tools to help manage your health and wellness?

Fortunately, I’m pretty healthy and I hope to keep it that way. I do have a HealthVault account and enjoy playing a good game on my smartphone or computer as much as anyone else. Even though I’m a doctor, I don’t hesitate to turn to the Internet for additional health information when I need to know more about something affecting me or my family. If I had a chronic disease like diabetes, I have no doubt that I would want to use applications that would help me track my blood glucose levels, maintain my diet, prevent complications and communicate more effectively with my care providers.

Please give our readers a preview of what you’ll be speaking about during your presentation in the UnitedHealth Group booth at CES?

I’ll be sharing information about some of the things that Microsoft and our partners are doing around the world to improve health and health care through software innovation. This will include everything from applications that are helping doctors take better care of their patients, to technologies available now and in the future that will help all of us stay healthy and productive. I could give you specifics, but then you might be inclined to miss my presentation at CES. Hope to see you there!


To learn more about Microsoft’s innovative health solutions, stop by the UnitedHealth Group booth (#2833 in the North Hall) on January 11 at 5:00pm. Dr. Crounse will be delivering a half-hour presentation, and taking your questions, in the amphitheater in our booth.