- Amazon is now selling software designed to comb through patient medical records searching for clues to help hospitals and doctors better treat patients while also cutting costs, the Wall Street Journal reported.
- The Amazon technology could help hospitals use their EHRs to identify patients who would be candidates for certain treatments or experimental drugs, the paper said. Similar efforts have met hurdles given the different ways doctors take notes in their charts.
- Amazon's move is another push into the hospital space, as the e-commerce giant already sells medical supplies through its business marketplace.
Hospitals and physicians are interested in Big Data and what that could mean for patient care. The ability to harness clinical data could fuel predictive analytics to aid in personalized patient treatments.
Physicians surveys, however, have found that interoperability remains a hurdle to fully taking advantage of such information. While the industry has undergone a major shift from paper to electronic records, many are not taking advantage of technological capabilities inherent in the digitization of records.
Amazon appears to be ready to try to overcome these barriers. Over the past year, the online retailer has been rattling the healthcare sector after making a splash with the purchase of PillPack, an online pharmacy.
There had been rumors that Amazon was eyeing the healthcare space after it was reported the company had gained wholesale pharmacy licenses in multiple states without much fanfare. The reports spooked investor confidence in big box pharmacies and shares faltered.
This summer, shares of chains like Walgreens took a major hit as Amazon said it would purchase PillPack, giving it the ability to ship medications to Americans in 49 states. The move also cleared up any doubt about Amazon's intentions in the healthcare sector.
Healthcare executives see Amazon as the biggest disruptor in their field, according to a Reaction Data survey. About 75% of CEOs said they think Amazon will create the most waves.
Some have suggested Amazon's steps into the healthcare space prompted the megamergers of other major firms such as CVS' tie up with Aetna and Cigna's takeover of Express Scripts.
Amazon has also made a foray into selling over-the-counter medical devices such as blood pressure cuffs and glucose monitors straight to consumers.
Similar to other major employers, Amazon is frustrated over the high cost of healthcare and teamed up with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase to find ways to lower costs and improve employee satisfaction. The venture has also snagged notable leaders to lead the executive team.