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Amazon Secret Healthcare IT Tech Team Focuses on EHRs, Alexa

Amazon's secret healthcare IT Tech team is in the beginning stages of developing healthcare IT specific tools for EHR data sharing and migration as well as apps for Alexa.

Amazon is developing EHR Alexa tools to improve healthcare IT.

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Amazon has started a secret skunkworks lab dedicated to healthcare IT to improve upon EHRs, telemedicine, and other upcoming health IT infrastructure opportunities.

Amazon has named its health IT team 1492, and it is based out of Seattle Washington, according to CNBC.

The team is focused on interoperability among disparate EHR systems to make it easier for healthcare organizations to migrate to new EHR systems, as well as helping entities share data with other healthcare systems. The project aims to make EHR data more available to clinicians as well as patients.

1492 is also interested in building a telemedicine platform to encourage remote care and virtual consultation.

Amazon reportedly wants to develop healthcare related uses for its current technology. The project is currently developing healthcare applications for Amazon Echo and Dash Wand.

CNBC reported that clinicians have expressed interest in using Echo’s Alexa to assist in better understanding patients and allowing clinicians to send more time with patients.

There has been significantly increased interest in using Alexa in healthcare, from allowing patient communicate health information from home to assisting surgeons in the operating room.

For example, Boston Children’s Hospital is currently using an app called KidsMD, built specifically for Alexa. The app lets users seek general health information for common medical issues and sicknesses along with medication dosing from Boston Children’s Hospital.

The users interact with Alexa by providing information about themselves. The information is HIPAA compliant because it is never stored on the actual device.

"There are some massive voice applications that will be built for health enterprises," Boston Children's Hospital chief innovation officer John Brownstein told CNBC in a statement.

Along with 1492, Amazon is also encouraging developers to produce healthcare apps for Alexa.

Back in April, Amazon collaborated with Merck to turn Alexa into an mHealth care management tool for patients suffering from type 2 diabetes.

The Alexa Diabetes Challenge offered $125,000 to the developer who could produce the best digital health platform integrated with Alexa.

mHealthIntelligence.com reported that the technology can significantly impact patient engagement because it allows patients to communicate with their care providers constantly and reduce the number of visits. It can also give clinicians valuable insight into what a patient goes through at home.

Amazon is pushing to immerse itself further into the healthcare industry because of the massive amounts of technology expected to be used in the healthcare sector in the coming years.

Most of the project is still under wraps, but CNBC reported that two machine learning experts, a UX designer, and two strategic initiative leads to run projects within the group.

Amazon is also looking to develop healthcare IT tools to compete with Google Health, Micorsoft’s HealthVault, and Apple’s recent collaborations in the healthcare vertical.

Amazon is actively developing new healthcare specific tools. While the company is not a stranger to the healthcare sector, these new tools will address specific healthcare issues beyond just adjusting their current hardware and software to meet health IT requirements.