Amazon to Enter Electronic Medical Record Space

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Meghann Chilcott, senior vice president of OrderInsite, discusses the opportunities and threats around Amazon’s move into selling software that reads medical records.

 

Digital health records are notorious for creating more work for doctors. A lack of standard practices means that the information saved in these records is often copied and pasted repeatedly and riddled with inaccuracies and redundancies.

Amazon has managed to become a global retail giant by putting their resources into as many baskets as possible, but their newest venture is somewhat unusual, even by their standards. Amazon is moving into the healthcare industry. While their new business model could create bold new opportunities for healthcare, it also opens up a wealth of ethical questions about patient privacy.

 

A new report from the Wall Street Journal alleges that Amazon is getting into the business of selling software that reads medical records, and while Amazon has neither confirmed nor denied the report, it could send ripples throughout the industry. If the reports are true, the technology that Amazon uses would scan medical records for relevant information while filtering out unnecessary data. In purely theoretical terms, it could be a huge development for the industry. Digital health records are notorious for creating more work for doctors. A lack of standard practices means that the information saved in these records is often copied and pasted repeatedly and riddled with inaccuracies and redundancies. This creates an environment where doctors have more trouble treating their patients but has also been identified as one of the biggest contributing factors to burnout in physicians.

 

Amazon isn’t the first company to make moves towards this type of technology. Algorithms that help digitize physical information are already used in several different fields and both Microsoft and Apple are already involved in the digitalization of physical records. However, early reports suggest that Amazon has perfected machine learning techniques that can consider the unique idiosyncrasies different doctors use in their note-taking.

 

But if this is an avenue that Amazon is pursuing, they can expect to come up against a great deal of scepticism. The notion of digital records for patients has become so hated by doctors that many in the industry have become frustrated with the very notion of digitized information. And an inconsistent approach to digital record keeping not properly backed up by physical records has created worrying holes in the medical histories of some patients. If Amazon’s technology can live up to the hype, they could revolutionize the healthcare industry. But they have a steep hill to climb and will have to work hard to convince the doctors they need to impress that their new software represents a meaningful evolutionary step forward.

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