Amazon to sell EHR-mining software

In a move that expands its budding presence in the healthcare space, Amazon is selling software that mines patient health records for information that helps physicians improve treatments and hospitals cut costs, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The software, dubbed Amazon Comprehend Medical, will use natural language processing and machine learning to highlight key data points — such as medical condition, medication dosage and clinical trial reports — from EHRs and unstructured clinical notes that physicians can use to inform a patient's care. Amazon said the insights can help healthcare organizations with clinical decision support, revenue cycle management and population health. The software may also free employees of clerical work, such as manually rifling through notes.

"One of the important ways to improve patient care and accelerate clinical research is by understanding and analyzing the insights and relationships that are 'trapped' in free-form medical text, including hospital admission notes and a patient's medical history," the company wrote in a news release announcing the new tool Nov. 27. " Machine learning can change all that with models that can reliably understand the medical information in unstructured text, identify meaningful relationships, and improve over-time."

To use the service, users would upload patient health records to Amazon's cloud service Amazon Web Services to run the text-processing software, which spits back its results in an organized, spreadsheet-esque format.

Amazon's software developers used deep learning — a type of artificial intelligence that learns over time by extracting patterns from a data set — to train text-processing algorithms to understand different ways physicians record notes. The system performed as well or better than other published text-analysis efforts during tests at the Seattle-based Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, the WSJ report states.

"We're able to completely, automatically look inside medical language and identify patient details," including diagnoses, treatments, dosage and strengths, "with incredibly high accuracy," Matt Wood, general manager of AI at AWS, told WSJ.

Recently, AWS has marketed similar text-processing software to companies in other industries, including travel booking and supply-chain management.

Editor's note: This article was updated Nov. 28 at 9 a.m. to provide additional information.

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