The Seattle e-commerce giant amazon.com plans to upend the healthcare sector by selling software that would help mine patients’ medical records for useful information. This information could be used by doctors and hospitals to improve treatment and cut costs.
The new code will be capable of reading digitized patient records and even handwritten notes from clinicians. AWS engineers reportedly used extensive deep learning – a form of AI – to train algorithms to understand handwritten notes that can also have misspellings, abbreviations, and other jargons. The company announced the software in November, last year.
AWS is the largest provider of cloud services to businesses, and data storage is in its wheelhouse. Also with the software ready to take on, it would give Amazon a significant leg up on competitors IBM and UnitedHealth Group, two leading players in the market that is worth more than $7 billion a year.
Last year, Amazon paid PillPack $1 billion to acquire the capability to ship prescription drugs. PillPack is an online pharmacy that presorts medications and then ships them directly to customers’ homes in 49 states. At that time, it looked like Amazon was readying to enter the $400 billion pharmacy business. But now, with the latest software developments, the acquisition looks like a piece of Amazon’s larger healthcare ambitions.
It doesn’t stop there. Amazon is also eyeing greater sales of medical supplies by letting the doctors use an app embedded in electronic medical records to send links of products that patients would want to buy.