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AWS, Cerner Collaborate on Healthcare Cloud Tool

AWS is expanding its healthcare cloud with Cerner as more public cloud vendors are working with health IT companies to create and improve tools.

Healthcare cloud

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Amazon is expanding its healthcare cloud by partnering with Cerner to help organizations make better use of the data collected by patients and clinicians using AWS.

Amazon is looking to expand its cloud service into the healthcare sector which can benefit greatly from the public cloud, but has been slow to adopt it, according to CNBC.

CNBC reported that negotiations between AWS and Cerner are in their final stages and will focus on Cerner’s population health solution, HealtheIntent. HealtheIntent allows organizations to gather and analyze large amounts of data to help improve future patient care.

Cerner and AWS have worked together in the past. Last year, Cerner used AWS for storage, compute, networking, databases, and disaster recovery.

“What the companies are set to unveil now is potentially much more significant, because it gives big medical institutions access to the HealtheIntent analytics engine at AWS speed and scale and with additional artificial intelligence technologies,” explained CNBC. “For example, a hospital that wants to analyze the likely outcome of a group of people in Australia could quickly set up a HealtheIntent project because AWS has locations across the Asia-Pacific region.”

This is not the first news to come from Amazon’s expanded health IT efforts. Amazon also started a secret skunkworks lab dedicated to healthcare IT to improve upon EHRs, telemedicine, and other upcoming health IT infrastructure opportunities back in July 2017.

The health IT team called 1492 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. The project has plans to use Amazon Echo’s Alexa to help assist clinicians as they treat patients.

As one of the largest public cloud vendors, AWS is looking to expand further into the healthcare space as advancing technology demands more storage space and computing power that is no longer practical to host on-premises.

The uses for public cloud over private cloud have also been growing in health IT infrastructure. Organizations cannot afford to host clouds on-premises. Hosted private cloud options are also proving to be expensive against public cloud options.

Healthcare has been hesitant about public cloud mostly for data security reasons. Healthcare organizations are skeptical at storing PHI and other data from other non-healthcare organizations.

However, over the past several years, public cloud service providers see the value in the healthcare sector and most have invested the time and resources to ensure their public cloud environments are HIPAA compliant and will sign business associate agreements (BAA). Most are also willing to work with healthcare organizations to make sure their public cloud is meeting all security expectations.

These expanded healthcare public cloud options give major vendors such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Google the opportunity to work with health IT companies to build public cloud tools that can handle the amount of data produced by patients and clinicians. Health IT public cloud tools can potentially give organizations that would not be able to afford on-premises deployments, custom tools, or on-site maintenance the opportunity to take advantage of advancing technology.

The more these healthcare cloud vendors continue to work toward building universal and affordable healthcare tools the more widespread the technology will become. Public cloud-based tools like EHRs, population health solutions, and analytics tools will work their way into standard health IT infrastructure to improve patient care and save organizations money.