Cerner, Amazon Web Services partner on new cloud-based cognitive health platform

Cerner CEO Brent Shafer speaks at a recent Cerner Health Conference in Kansas City. (Cerner)

Health IT company Cerner is leveraging its partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to launch a new cloud-based health platform to incorporate artificial intelligence to improve usability and provide predictive insights for patient care.

The new platform, called Project Apollo, brings a more cognitive approach to practicing medicine, Cerner Chairman and CEO Brent Shafer said during his keynote address at the annual Cerner Health Conference, according to a company press release.

Shafer said the new platform will leverage Cerner's healthcare technology and the AWS infrastructure to accelerate the speed at which innovations are integrated by removing manual steps for clients that slow the pace of adoption. Cerner also is creating an "intelligence ecosystem" to innovate next-generation user experiences and care delivery algorithms, the company said.

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"We’ve listened to you. We’re looking to return the joy of delivering medicine, and we’re focused on innovating for the future and delivering better usability today,” Shafer said.

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The Kansas City-based company also announced new predictive modeling tools to help reduce opioid abuse, improved dashboards and analytics and a new capability aimed at enhancing interoperability in the healthcare industry.

In July, Cerner announced a collaboration with cloud giant AWS, which is part of Amazon, with the aim of accelerating healthcare innovation. As part of the agreement, Cerner named AWS its preferred cloud provider.

During his keynote speech, Shafer said Cerner will focus on several key areas in its broader strategy to innovate with Amazon, including turning data into insights, increasing interoperability and usability and rapid development and deployment, according to the Kansas City Business Journal.

Matt Wood, vice president of artificial intelligence for AWS, also spoke at the conference on the partnership with Cerner and the possibilities that arise when companies can access "infrastructure as if it was a utility," according to the Kansas City Business Journal.

"It’s incredibly exciting to take the remarkably transformative technology in the cloud and collaborate with Cerner to build better products and improve outcomes for healthcare,” Wood said.

New capabilities, health IT tools

Shafer also announced a new toolkit that uses AI and predictive analytics that goes beyond prescribing history to identifying patients potentially at risk for opioid abuse.

Each day, nearly 130 U.S. citizens die from an opioid overdose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As part of his remarks, Shafer issued a challenge to reduce the number of opioid-related deaths by 90%, according to Cerner's press release.

“Last year, deaths from opioid overdoses dropped by 5%,” Shafer said. “It was the first time since 1990 the number has declined. Even more progress needs to be made and I appeal to the health care industry to eradicate this epidemic.”

RELATED: As activist investor steps in, analysts remain uncertain about Cerner's future

Stemming from Cerner’s collaborative work in the federal space, the company also plans to roll out a new capability called Cerner Seamless Interoperability. The enhancement takes data from connectivity to usability, and the new capability will help give invaluable time back to clinicians, the company said.

The company is also rolling out a web-based training platform that will be available to Cerner clients at no cost 

“We started by asking our clients, ‘what’s in the way of giving your patients the best quality of care?’” Shafer said. “As we constructed our commitments and guiding principles, a relentless focus on our clients’ success became the overriding focus of everything we do at Cerner.”

In February, Cerner unveiled a new operating model and then signed an agreement with activist investor Starboard Value as part of a plan to increase the company's profitability. Cerner continues efforts to turn its financial picture around, but the company's second-quarter reported revenue of $1.43 billion fell short of Wall Street estimates of $1.44 billion.

So far, the health IT company's process improvements have not translated to profitability or growth. 

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