Aiming to reinforce its medical pedigree, Microsoft next week is launching a video show on developments in the health care technology arena.
The show's host, Bill Crounse, senior director of worldwide health at Microsoft, is a veteran of both broadcasting and medicine, having served as a broadcaster and practicing physician before joining Microsoft. In a chat on Friday, Crounse promised that the show itself won't be an ad for Microsoft's health care software, though the company is sponsoring the first few episodes with some short commercials.
"It's about demonstrating our investment and commitment to the industry and wanting to be seen, obviously, as a player and a thought leader," Crounse said.
The original concept was for a 10-minute show, though the first episode, set to be broken up into six chapters, debuting November 10, ended up lasting for 45 minutes.
Among the guests are Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu, who talks about the role technology can play in expanding access to health care, along with Cornelia Ruland, a nurse in Norway who developed a video game for chronically ill young children that helps them better communicate their experience.
Crounse said the goal is to tell stories to which people can relate. Another segment in the first show focuses on a service called MyHalo, which Chris Otto launched after his own family's experience dealing with an elderly relative.
Otto created a wearable device that people can use to do some physiological monitoring and also detect if someone falls.
"It lets loved ones go online and see how grandma is doing," Crounse said. In the show, Otto demonstrates how the service works by taking a spill in the show's studio.
Crounse, who got his start in television by hosting a Tacoma, Wash.-area variety show when he was 17, said he is aiming for a new episode to be produced monthly, with a goal being to attract sponsors other than Microsoft. For him, it is a chance to mix a bit of his passion for TV in with his day job, which is helping coordinate Microsoft's companywide efforts in the health care field.
"We're investing as deeply in health and health care as anything else these days," Crounse said, noting that Microsoft has gone from having 20 people focused on health care to more than 1,000 people in the time he has been with the company. The company's main products include its HealthVault personal health record and its Amalga products, which health systems can use to coordinate their data.