- Health IT giant Cerner and Amazon are partnering on artificial intelligence and machine learning offerings in healthcare. As part of the agreement, Cerner named Amazon Web Services its preferred cloud provider.
- The goal of the collaboration between the EHR vendor and the tech-savvy retail heavyweight is to foster interoperability and data portability while lowering costs and operational hassles for Cerner's clients.
- The announcement comes roughly a week after Cerner unveiled a pivot in its corporate strategy to monetize the reams of patient data it's picked up in the EHR business.
Cerner is joining forces with Amazon as the EHR giant positions itself to deal with the rapidly changing healthcare environment, including the rise of consumerism. Partnering with a brand predominantly known for speed, convenience and affordability could be a good move for Cerner, especially now that Amazon's done more than just dip its toe in the market.
"AWS's global infrastructure and breadth and depth of services, coupled with Cerner's health care technology acumen and source for data, can bring significant benefits to Cerner clients." the companies said in a Tuesday blog post.
Amazon's foray into healthcare stretches across at-home diagnoses with Alexa's voice recognition technology, pharmaceutical distribution with subsidiary PillPack, a venture to lower healthcare costs in tandem with industry heavyweights J.P. Morgan and Berkshire-Hathaway, and machine learning, AI and data hosting through its cloud services arm.
"If you look even just at Amazon Web Services, everything that we do is because customers are asking us to help," Taha Kass-Hout, Amazon's senior leader of healthcare and artificial intelligence, told Healthcare Dive earlier this year.
The Cerner-AWS strategic partnership grows out of an ongoing relationship between the EHR vendor and the cloud services company.
Cerner has worked with the Amazon Machine Learning Solutions Lab to develop new machine learning and artificial intelligence offerings for its clients in the past. Additionally, Cerner already works with AWS and uses Amazon SageMaker, an end-to-end machine learning tool, to allow researchers to use anonymized patient data to build prediction models. The two have already collaborated on using artificial intelligence to predict congestive heart failure onset with some promising initial results.
That technology, along with Amazon's voice recognition and natural language processing capabilities, will have an "immediate impact" on Cerner's technology offerings, the company said.
Cerner's cloud-based platform for data research, called HealtheDataLab, is hosted on AWS. That platform allows researchers to de-identify patient data for research and modeling, and it's been used by providers like the Children's Hospital of Orange County to do data science work since its inception in 2017.
AWS could be a useful partner for Cerner as it pivots to more of a big data strategy for the second half of 2019 and beyond. The health IT company plans to develop a monetizable distribution model for its data for both legacy clients and new markets, such as pharmaceutical companies, payers and actuaries, CEO Brent Shafer said on a July 24 call discussing Cerner's second quarter earnings.
"Our work with Amazon and AWS is a key component for the next chapter at Cerner," Shafer said in the Tuesday release, "to help fuel our strategy of making Cerner more agile."