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Following the purchase of the online pharmacy PillPack in June, Amazon now plans to sell software that can read medical records and make suggestions for improving treatment or saving money. The program is capable of scanning medical files for select things like medical conditions, patient procedures, and prescriptions. Where other algorithms fall short, Amazon claims to have trained its system to recognize even the smallest of doctor idiosyncrasies including abbreviations.

Amazon is not the first company to put a foot in the healthcare door. Last year Microsoft created a health care division that uses artificial intelligence to improve care, and earlier in November Apple partners with the Department of Veterans Affairs. Apple’s Watch is partnered with Stanford University for a heart-health study including an FDA-cleared EKG function in the latest version.

Despite the HITECH Act’s national requirement for meaningful use of electronic medical records, enthusiastic reception for these technologies is not universal. For many patients, the switch from paper records to electronic has ended in a frustrating fragmented medical trail. Physicians also are feeling the burnout from the electronic medical record push.

Not all technology to medical heath record ventures are successful.  Verily, formerly Google Life Sciences, had to halt its smart contact program which detected glucose from tears.  Amazon’s potential future app, embedded in an electronic medical record to provide patients with links to products they can purchase on Amazon, may be met with more resistance.

Categories: HIPAA

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