Microsoft (MSFT 0.10%) and GE Healthcare have teamed up to launch a cloud-based software platform that enables medical professionals to monitor COVID-19 patients remotely. 

The Mural Virtual Care Solution was originally slated to debut earlier in 2020, but once the pandemic struck, it was retooled on Microsoft's Azure cloud to quickly aid healthcare professionals in monitoring patients with the virus, including those on ventilators.

A medical professional checking a patient in a coronavirus triage bay.


GE Healthcare and Microsoft said they are giving hospitals access to the new cloud software for free until January of 2021. One installation can monitor a 100-bed, multi-site ICU network with three senior nurses and two intensivists around the clock. The staff reduction is made possible because the cloud-based platform brings real-time data from ventilators, patient monitoring systems, electronic medical records, labs, and other systems into one central hub. That enables one clinician to monitor several patients at one time. 

By incorporating remote monitoring tools, Microsoft said it would help medical professionals lower their exposure to pandemic patients. It would also reduce the need for personal protective equipment which has been in short supply throughout the pandemic. There are currently more than 620,000 COVID-19 cases in the U.S., resulting in more than 27,500 deaths.

"Now more than ever, we need to manage a greater number of ventilated patients with limited resources," said Microsoft Global Chief Medical Officer Dr. David Rhew in a press release announcing the collaboration. "Mural Virtual Care on Microsoft Azure allows for remote management and surveillance of ventilated patients at scale."