Amazon to sell medical software that reads records, cuts costs

Amazon will begin to sell medical software that uses machine learning technology to parse patient records and other documents, potentially cutting costs and improving care, the e-commerce giant said Tuesday.

Dubbed “Amazon Comprehend Medical,” the software can automatically pull relevant information from medical notes, audio transcripts and patient records – a process that traditionally required time-consuming manual translation. The program can aid doctors and health care providers in clinical decision-making and improve patient data privacy, among other touted benefits.

“Amazon Comprehend Medical allows developers to identify the key common types of medical information automatically, with high accuracy, and without the need for large numbers of custom rules,” Amazon said in a blog post. “Ultimately, this richness of information may be able to one day help consumers with managing their own health, including medication management, proactively scheduling care visits, or empowering them to make informed decisions about their health and eligibility.”

The technology gives Amazon access to health care analysis market worth $7 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the program’s launch. Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud-computing arm, already offers similar technology to aid in supply-chain analysis, customer support and travel booking.

The software is already in use at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle and Roche Diagnostics.

The program’s launch comes as other tech giants mull an entry into the health care field. Apple has increasingly emphasized health care applications in its products, including the recent launch of an FDA-approved Apple Watch that monitors heartrate. Alphabet-owned Google recently tapped prominent hospital chief David Feinberg to head up its own health care-related efforts, The Journal reported.