Amazon Web Services exec: We're interested in longitudinal health records for analytics and pop health

The tech giant said the cloud can serve as a home for patient records and enable a broader view at medical data to fuel value-based care.
By Mike Miliard
02:49 PM
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When Amazon announced that it is creating a new healthcare company with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, the move signaled how the company is stepping into the industry. 

During a pre-HIMSS18 Q&A just days ahead of that revelation, Patrick Combes, global technical leader of healthcare and life sciences at Amazon Web Services, shed some light on where the cloud computing arm of Amazon is headed in healthcare. 

[Also: Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase partner to build healthcare company with focus on tech]


“Looking ahead, AWS is interested in how we can work with longitudinal health records and leverage them for population health and analysis efforts,” Combes said. "As we’re seeing it, it’s possible for the cloud to act as a permanent home for all patient records and enable the shift away from event-based records to a more holistic view of patient health, supporting value-based care initiatives.” 

The second-annual HIMSS18 Cloud Computing Forum on March 5 will set the stage for a week in which AWS will be showcasing its capabilities and showing how healthcare organizations of all shapes and sizes are heading to the cloud to help foster efficiencies and speed innovation.  

Mark Johnston, director of global business development for healthcare and life sciences at Amazon Web Services, will present a session titled, "Debunking Myths and Establishing a Foundational Understanding," and his colleague Patrick Combes, global technical leader, healthcare and life sciences at AWS will give a talk, "Architecting for HIPAA" that shows how the cloud can help organizations more easily comply with privacy and security regulations. Moreover, several AWS healthcare customers – payers such as Cambia Health, vendors such as Orion Health – will be discussing their own cloud experiences at the forum.

AWS is working with a wide array of healthcare organizations – "from small, independent labs and clinics, to researchers, device manufacturers, Fortune 500 companies, and government entities," said Combes — to push the envelope on scientific discovery, drive operational efficiencies, and help organizations deploy secure and cost-effective analytics pipelines.

[Also: Microsoft enters cloud computing price war with Google, Amazon]

For example, "understanding that patients need a smart and simple guide to help navigate their insurance coverage, our customer Zocdoc recently launched its Insurance Checker," he said. "This tool helps patients understand and navigate challenges with their insurance coverage by leveraging the cloud and deep learnings models."

With AWS technology, the system uses "deep learning-based computer vision to scan any insurance ID card and extract the correct policy information to help customers figure out what kind of coverage they qualify for, and the best match for their needs." said Combes "In addition, when faced with the difficulty of deciphering a wide variety of ID cards, Zocdoc's engineering and data science teams were able to create a neural network proof-of-concept in just one day by using cloud-based GPU servers from AWS."

There's been an unmistakable movement toward the cloud in recent years, as healthcare organizations have shed some of their skepticism and security concerns. 

"Healthcare providers are facing increasing internal and external pressure to incorporate data into their decision-making across a range of applications, and the cloud offers a complete analytics pipeline that can ingest, manage, and analyze any type of data -- whether it is structured data, unstructured data, or streams," said Combes.

"Users can scale up during peak demand periods, like during a local flu outbreak, and scale back down again when demand has ebbed. They can then process the data on a managed big data platform, apply deep learning, and visualize the data in order to make insightful decisions throughout a patient’s care journey – or even throughout the research pipeline."

HIMSS18 attendees can learn about those innovations and more, and see demos from AWS key partners, including VMware, Philips, Orion Health, Deloitte and ClearDATA, said Johnston. 

"Throughout the show, there will also be a variety of customer and partner presentations in our theater area, featuring additional partners like Cloudticity, LogicWorks, NextGen Healthcare, Datica, Infor and PokitDok," he added. "Our partners and the ecosystem of solutions and services are incredibly important to our customers and HIMSS gives us a showcase to demonstrate the great work they are doing."

Amazon is in Booth 1625.

HIMSS18 Preview

An inside look at the innovation, education, technology, networking and key events at the HIMSS18 global conference in Las Vegas.

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com