Amazon rolls out AWS for Health cloud services for healthcare, genomics and biopharma

Amazon's cloud division has rolled out AWS for Health, a set of services and partner solutions for healthcare, genomics and biopharma.

Amazon says the portfolio of solutions will help to accelerate innovation from "benchtop to bedside" as the tech giant pushes further into the healthcare and life sciences markets.

AWS for Health provides "proven and easily accessible capabilities" that help organizations increase the pace of innovation, unlock the potential of health data, and develop more personalized approaches to therapeutic development and care, Patrick Combes, director, head of technology for healthcare and life sciences at Amazon Web Services (AWS), wrote in a blog post.

The services within AWS for Health can help healthcare customers create holistic electronic health records to help clinicians make data-driven care plans and power population genomic initiatives to expand precision medicine accessibility, as two examples, Combes wrote.

Microsoft, Google and AWS are all pushing deeper into healthcare in a battle to provide cloud computing and data storage technology to hospitals.

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As part of AWS for Health, Amazon announced last week the general availability of Amazon HealthLake, a tool to make it easier for healthcare organizations to search and analyze data.

Healthcare organizations are creating vast volumes of patient information every day, and the majority of this data is unstructured, such as clinical notes, lab reports, insurance claims, medical images, recorded conversations and graphs.

This data must be aggregated, structured and normalized before the data can provide customers with valuable insights, and that is often a time-consuming and error-prone process.  

Amazon HealthcareLake, which was announced in December, is a HIPAA-eligible service for healthcare and life sciences organizations that aggregates an organization’s complete data across various silos and disparate formats into a centralized AWS data lake and automatically normalizes this information using machine learning, according to the tech giant.

The service identifies each piece of clinical information, tags and indexes events in a timeline view with standardized labels so it can be easily searched, and structures all of the data into the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) industry-standard format for a complete view of the health of individual patients and entire populations.

“More and more of our customers in the healthcare and life sciences space are looking to organize and make sense of their reams of data, but are finding this process challenging and cumbersome,” said Swami Sivasubramanian, vice president of Amazon Machine Learning for AWS, in a statement.

“We built Amazon HealthLake to remove this heavy lifting for healthcare organizations so they can transform health data in the cloud in minutes and begin analyzing that information securely at scale. Alongside AWS for Health, we’re excited about how Amazon HealthLake can help medical providers, health insurers, and pharmaceutical companies provide patients and populations with data-driven, personalized, and predictive care," he said.

RELATED: Microsoft makes big play for healthcare cloud business in competition with Google, Amazon

Rush University Medical Center says that even in preview mode, Amazon HealthLake was an integral part of its COVID-19 response.

"It has enabled us to quickly store disparate data from multiple data sources in FHIR format in order to gain critical insights into the care of COVID-19 patients,” said Bala Hota, M.D., vice president and chief analytics officer at Rush University Medical Center.

Rush also used HealthLake’s natural language processing to extract information such as medication, diagnosis, and previous conditions from doctors’ clinical notes to examine barriers to healthcare access.

"With the HealthLake API, we created a mobile app to provide insights into care gaps across the West Side of Chicago. Amazon HealthLake enables us to accelerate insights and drive decisions faster to better serve the Chicago community," Hota said.

Other organizations using Amazon HealthLake include Cortica, InterSystems and Redox.

Personalized medicine company CureMatch uses the analytics tools to turn molecular profile data from the EHR into FHIR format to run advanced analytics and algorithms to assist oncologists, according to Philippe Faurie, vice president of professional services at CureMatch.