Amazon Web Services to launch HIPAA-eligible data management service

Healthcare organizations can use Amazon HealthLake to aggregate information into a centralized, searchable lake and normalize it using machine learning and FHIR.
By Kat Jercich
03:27 PM
The AWS logo

Amazon Web Services announced on Tuesday the launch of HealthLake, a cloud storage and analysis service available to healthcare and life sciences organizations.  

According to the company, the service allows organizations to store, tag, index, standardize, query and apply machine learning to analyze data in the cloud, as well as automatically structuring information into HL7's FHIR standard.  

"There has been an explosion of digitized health data in recent years with the advent of electronic medical records, but organizations are telling us that unlocking the value from this information using technology like machine learning is still challenging and riddled with barriers," said Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of Amazon Machine Learning for AWS, in a statement.  

"With Amazon HealthLake, healthcare organizations can reduce the time it takes to transform health data in the cloud from weeks to minutes so that it can be analyzed securely, even at petabyte scale," Sivasubramanian added.  

WHY IT MATTERS  

Despite attempted advances in the realm of interoperability, clinical data is often siloed and incompatible even among organizational departments. Unstructured data proves particularly gnarly, although some systems are training algorithms to mine it for useful information.  

"Even if organizations are able to aggregate and structure their data, they still need to build their own analytics and machine learning applications to uncover relationships in the data, discover trends, and make precise predictions," said AWS in a press release.   

"The cost and operational complexity of doing all this work is prohibitive to most organizations; and as a result, the vast majority of organizations end up missing out on the untapped potential to use their data to improve the health of patients and communities," the organization added.  

With HealthLake, Amazon Web Services hopes to offer customers a way to tackle that wealth of information using a centralized data lake and to share it between health systems and with third-party applications – in turn, giving patients more seamless access to their medical history.  

According to the company, organizations such as the electronic health record giant Cerner and population health IT vendor Orion Health are already using HealthLake to address their data management needs.  

"We are excited about the launch of Amazon HealthLake and its potential to quickly ingest patient data from various diverse sources and transform the data to perform advanced analytics to unlock new insights and serve many of our initiatives across population health," said Ryan Hamilton, senior vice president of population health at Cerner, in a statement.  

THE LARGER TREND  

Software behemoths have rolled out a number of healthcare data management and analysis tools in recent years.   

Last year, InterSystems announced a partnership with Virtusa to enhance the data integration capabilities of the vLife platform – a HIPAA-compliant data lake offering AI-as-a-service. The platform itself was built using AWS technology.

And in May, Innovaccer unveiled its own FHIR-enabled Data Activation Platform, which included scalable FHIR APIs, an optimized FHIR data lake, an API gateway, hundreds of analytical enrichments  and a cloud infrastructure, among other features.  

"In the COVID-19 pandemic, it is more crucial now than ever that patients have access to their healthcare data when they need it the most and in a way they can best use it," said Abhinav Shashank, CEO of Innovaccer, at the time.  

ON THE RECORD  

Amazon HealthLake "completely reinvents what’s possible with healthcare and brings us that much closer to everyone’s goal of providing patients with more personalized and predictive treatment for individuals and across entire populations," said AWS' Sivasubramanian in a statement.

 

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: kjercich@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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