About Amazon’s New “Transcribe Medical” Service

By Kayla Matthews, freelance journalist, Productivity Bytes.

Amazon has been slowly making forays into fields outside of retail, a sector they currently dominate. One of their latest changes is moving into the healthcare and life sciences fields by offering a HIPAA-compliant transcription program.

What does this service provide, how will it change the medical field and when can professionals expect to see this program in their workplace?

Amazon Transcribe Medical

Amazon is putting their machine learning systems and processing power to good use with its Transcribe Medical service, a technology that’s supposed to improve speech-to-text transcriptions for clinical documentation and patient records.

Traditionally, transcription is carried out by the practitioner or assistant. Either way, clinicians spend extra hours each day converting verbal documentation into digital items for storage in the patient’s electronic health records (EHRs).

Transcribe Medical uses machine learning to transcribe a professional’s verbal dictation into digital records. By using its own previous experience to convert data, this software can work more quickly and accurately than human scribes.

Electronic health records have come a long way since first introduced in 1972. Today, more than 85% of doctors’ offices have fully adopted EHRs. Yet many employees say these advances increase their working hours. Amazon Transcribe Medical could be the tool that allows universal adoption of EHRs without increasing physician burnout.

Amazon in Healthcare

Transcribe Medical isn’t Amazon’s first venture in the healthcare industry. Early in 2018, the company started looking for someone to fill a new role — a HIPAA compliance lead. In the last year, the retail giant launched a brand of over-the-counter medications, offered equipment directly to offices and hospitals and even took steps to acquire multiple pharmaceutical companies, such as PillPack in the U.S. and MedPlus in India.

Amazon planned to become a major pharmaceutical supplier for hospitals but backed off in April of 2018 in favor of working with less-sensitive medical supplies.

Regardless of plans shelved or canceled, Amazon has made it clear that it intends to become a significant player in the healthcare industry, even if it means they’re only selling medical supplies and — as Transcribe Medical shows — assisting physicians with their transcription needs.

Machine Learning in Medicine 

While Transcribe Medicine might be one of the first options to tackle transcription with machine learning, it isn’t the only application available. Self-taught computers and artificial intelligence — as it currently exists — are quickly becoming invaluable tools in the medical sector.

These programs learn the same way that doctors, researchers and nurses do, with one significant difference — they have access to nearly unlimited processing and data storage, something the human brain is incapable of.

Another difference between machines and human workers? Advanced technology can work non-stop, never taking a break or making a mistake. Employees, on the other hand, require time off. When they transcribe records, they can easily make a mistake that goes unnoticed.

In medicine, machine learning is showing up in diagnostics, analyzing data, images and more to determine the likelihood that a patient has a specific condition. It’s also used in emergency room triage and, in some cases, treatment.

If Transcribe Medicine proves lucrative, it may open the door for Amazon to move into other healthcare circles, offering up its machine learning services for anyone who might need them.

The Future of Transcribe Medical in Healthcare 

Despite shelving previous plans to take over pharmaceutical circles, Amazon is working on expanding its empire beyond retail sales. Transcribe Medical’s premiere is proof of this.

While the technology is relatively new — and only time will tell how effective it is — Amazon’s track record with new technologies is relatively spotless. The industry can likely expect great things from the e-commerce giant.

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