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Amazon Brings Machine Learning to Healthcare
Amazon announced the launch of a new machine learning service that can extract relevant medical details – including patient diagnoses, medication and dosage, symptoms and signs – from unstructured text, such as doctors’ notes, pathology and radiology reports, prescriptions and audio interview transcripts.
Called Amazon Comprehend Medical, the service utilizes text analysis and machine learning to read patient records that are then digitized and uploaded to Comprehend Medical, which organizes information about symptoms, diagnoses, treatments and medication dosage. The new service could potentially save the healthcare industry both time and money.
“Comprehend Medical helps health care providers, insurers, researchers, and clinical trial investigators as well as health care IT, biotech, and pharmaceutical companies to improve clinical decision support, streamline revenue cycle and clinical trials management, and better address data privacy and protected health information (PHI) requirements,” the company said in a statement.
Amazon’s new service was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.
The company notes that the current process used for identifying relevant patient data and medical information “is a manual and time consuming process, which either requires data entry by high skilled medical experts, or teams of developers writing custom code and rules to try and extract the information automatically. In both cases this undifferentiated heavy lifting takes material resources away from efforts to improve patient outcomes through technology.”
Amazon says that patent data is encrypted to ensure the privacy of the medical records and can only be unlocked by customers who have a key. The company also maintains that the patient data will not be stored, processed or used for training algorithms.
Amazon Comprehend Medical, which complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), is currently being previewed by Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Amazon’s hometown of Seattle, as well as by the Switzerland-based Roche Diagnostics. The service
“Curing cancer is, inherently, an issue of time,” Matthew Trunnell, Chief Information Officer at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center said in a statement. “For cancer patients and the researchers dedicated to curing them, time is the limiting resource. The process of developing clinical trials and connecting them with the right patients requires research teams to sift through and label mountains of unstructured medical record data. Amazon Comprehend Medical will reduce this time burden from hours per record to seconds. This is a vital step toward getting researchers rapid access to the information they need when they need it so they can find actionable insights to advance lifesaving therapies for patients.”
This is not Amazon’s first foray into healthcare: The company announced in January that it was teaming up with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to form “an independent company that is free from profit-making incentives and constraints” that will service the healthcare needs of their employees in the United States. In June, Amazon acquired online pharmacy PillPack, which “delivers medications in pre-sorted dose packaging,” while also handling refills.
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