How Amazon's $4B investment in AI company Anthropic impacts healthcare

Amazon announced this week that it would invest up to $4 billion in artificial intelligence company Anthropic as the AI arms race heats up.

The two companies are forming a strategic collaboration to advance generative AI, and the startup selected Amazon Web Services as its primary cloud provider. Along with the hefty investment, Amazon also took minority ownership in the two-year-old startup.

With the $4 billion investment, Amazon is making big bets on generative AI as it moves to keep pace with competitors Microsoft and Google. Microsoft has reportedly invested $13 billion in OpenAI, the maker of ChatGPT, and has inked partnerships with Epic to incorporate the technology into healthcare software. Google is partnering with health systems like HCA Healthcare to use generative AI technology to improve workflows on time-consuming tasks, such as clinical documentation. Google also has expanded its generative AI model Med-PaLM, which is specifically trained on medical information, to more health customers.

In July, AWS rolled out a new AI-powered service for healthcare software providers that will help clinicians with paperwork.

Anthropic, founded in 2021, offers an AI assistant called Claude that competes with ChatGPT. Led by siblings Dario and Daniela Amodei, who both used to work at OpenAI, the company claims its technology is safer and more reliable than that of competitors, The Wall Street Journal reported.

As part of the collaboration with Amazon, Anthropic will use AWS-designed custom chips to build, train and deploy future foundation models, according to both companies.

AWS customers will be able to build on Anthropic's AI models via AWS Bedrock, the company's fully managed service that provides secure access to the industry’s top foundation models. "Anthropic will provide AWS customers with early access to unique features for model customization and fine-tuning capabilities," Amazon executives said in a blog post.

"Amazon developers and engineers will be able to build with Anthropic models via Amazon Bedrock so they can incorporate generative AI capabilities into their work, enhance existing applications, and create net-new customer experiences across Amazon’s businesses," the tech giant said.

Organizations will be able to use Claude 2 for a wide range of tasks, from sophisticated dialogue and creative content generation to complex reasoning and detailed instruction, Anthropic executives said.

"Our news today about Amazon's collaboration with Anthropic is important for Healthcare and Life Sciences organizations globally. We are already seeing many Amazon Web Services (AWS) customers employ Anthropic's Claude generative AI models via Amazon Bedrock to transform drug development and healthcare," Dan Sheeran, general manager, healthcare and life science at AWS, wrote in a LinkedIn post. "This new collaboration reinforces our commitment to providing customers choice of genAI models while keeping their data private and secure and seamlessly integrating with the rest of their AWS workloads.

Amazon's collaboration with Anthropic is an "overall good move for the tech giant's healthcare ambitions," according to Erik Pupo, director of commercial health IT advisory at healthcare consulting firm Guidehouse.

"It introduces more competition and more options for healthcare teams looking to innovate using different approaches or to get more tactical with their AI strategy," he told Fierce Healthcare.

Anthropic also has a reputation for responsible AI policies, which "adds cachet to Amazon’s efforts in healthcare," he noted. "Responsible usage of AI will further position the AWS brand as a secure option for storage and analysis of patient data," he added.

With the partnership, healthcare organizations and vendors get a natural springboard for training Anthropic models to support the development of products using AWS healthcare services, Pupo noted.

"Beyond the availability of Anthropic models in Bedrock, Amazon can now offer trained healthcare models to healthcare vendors and developers to build on top of existing AWS healthcare services. Think HealthScribe using an Anthropic model trained with an Alexa LLM (also from Anthropic). Think Omics integrating multiple multimodal LLMs together to integrate clinical genomics data into an Epic on AWS instance. The possibilities for accelerating healthcare AI grew quickly," he said.

Many hospitals and health systems already are using AWS for cloud technology and have migrated their electronic health record systems to AWS, along with other clinical and operational applications such as revenue cycle management.

"We can expect an acceleration of health systems wanting to explore healthcare AI use cases on AWS. Amazon’s healthcare initiatives can combine Anthropic models with existing healthcare LLMs to integrate AI into healthcare initiatives like Amazon Clinic, One Medical and Pillpack," he said. "The possibility of generative AI copilot and agent development integrated with AWS services will increase organization’s willingness to migrate healthcare applications to the cloud.