Amazon software now scrutinises patient health records, providing long-term advantages
Technology giants are continually looking at ways to enter the healthcare space. Announcing its acquisition of PillPack earlier this year, as well as its partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan, Amazon sent shockwaves through the industry, leading pharmaceutical shares to plunge.
Growing ageing populations and the increased complexities in delivering high quality patient care has presented a myriad of challenges, one of which technology can deliver a plethora of advantages. Present challenges, such as interoperability, high patient costs and a fragmented delivery of care is something in which both traditional and digital players are seeking to explore and place significant investment.
Through the introduction of Amazon’s Comprehend Medical solution, the company will “have the potential to retrieve and present relevant information to clinicians when they’re making treatment decisions. The tools could also aid with recruiting patients for clinical trials and managing these studies once they’re underway,” according to a recent blog post.
Analysing and highlighting medical conditions, the use of machine learning, natural language processing, algorithms and big data within clinical settings will open the doors for the introduction of complete personalised patient care and will take the industry into a new age. Amazon’s tool is so advanced it is now even able to understand medical abbreviations and key characteristics placed within a patients’ medical notes, and can help the management of patient medications, schedule GP visits and enable more informed decision making.
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In the blog post, Amazon has also revealed that the company has partnered with Roche Diagnostics and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research in the introduction of Amazon Comprehend Medical.
“Curing cancer is, inherently, an issue of time,” explained Matthew Trunnell, Chief Information Officer, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. “For cancer patients and the researchers dedicated to curing them, time is the limiting resource. The process of developing clinical trials and connecting them with the right patients requires research teams to sift through and label mountains of unstructured medical record data. Amazon Comprehend Medical will reduce this time burden from hours per record to seconds.
“This is a vital step toward getting researchers rapid access to the information they need when they need it so they can find actionable insights to advance lifesaving therapies for patients.”
“Roche’s NAVIFY decision support portfolio provides solutions that accelerate research and enable personalized healthcare. With petabytes of unstructured data being generated in hospital systems every day, our goal is to take this information and convert it into useful insights that can be efficiently accessed and understood,” added Roche Diagnostics Information Solutions Director of Software Engineering Anish Kejariwal.
“Amazon Comprehend Medical provides the functionality to help us with quickly extracting and structuring information from medical documents, so that we can build a comprehensive, longitudinal view of patients, and enable both decision support and population analytics.”
Birdie aims to reinvent elderly care with tech
British startup Birdie has announced it has raised £8.2 million to invest in innovation and scale up the business.
The company's announcement is timely as it follows the criticism of the UK government over their lack of a plan for social care, despite acknowledging the sector is in crisis - around a quarter of the UK's home care providers are on the brink of bankruptcy due to a lack of funds and staffing.
Birdie was born with a mission to "radically improve the lives of millions of older adults", by using app-based solutions, IoT and machine learning to put preventative care at the forefront. The company was founded by Max Parmentier, after experiencing his own frustrations with the care system - his grandfather struggled with the impact of life in a care home, but lacked any other option.
In 2017 Parmentier partnered with venture builder Kamet Ventures to set up Birdie, in a bid to fix this problem. Since then, Birdie has partnered with almost 500 providers across the UK, and supports more than 20,000 older people every week. In the past 12 months alone the number of people Birdie supports has got six times greater.
Birdie’s solution is an app to help care providers deliver more coordinated, personalised and preventative care, by giving them access to digital assessments, medication scheduling and planning tools. By using digital tools to take care of admin, staff have more time to spend with their care recipients.
The new investment will be used to fund Birdie’s next phase of growth in the UK, as the company scales to meet the rapidly growing demand of the aging population. The company will also invest in product innovation, creating new features to address customer requests.
In addition, Birdie is piloting new care models, including partnering with the NHS to identify COVID-19 symptoms, building predictive pharmacy models with AI, and helping health authorities to detect early warning signs of patients’ health risks.
Internally, Birdie is committed to having a progressive company ethos. All salaries are transparent, and staff work asynchronously to maximise flexibility and equity. Staff members also volunteer in their local community during office hours, and the company offsets all its emissions.
These efforts have led to numerous awards, including having the best SME culture in the UK, an Honorable Mention in the Health category of Fast Company’s 2021 World Changing Ideas Awards, and innovation in care at the LangBuisson awards.
“We believe the future of care for older people should be helping them to live at home for as long as possible through the delivery of personalised and preventative care" Parmentier said.
"Birdie is already the partner of choice for caregivers up and down the UK, and this new funding will help us rapidly increase the number we partner with and what we can offer them - meaning more people benefiting from more affordable, quality care. We’re proud of our mission and the values we embody to pursue it.”