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Amazon launches medical transcription service


Amazon on Monday unveiled Transcribe Medical, a medical transcription service the tech giant said is designed to make clinical documentation more efficient.

Cerner Corp., which entered into a cloud collaboration with Amazon this summer, has already signed on as a customer of the new machine-learning service.

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Cerner is using Transcribe Medical to develop a digital voice scribe that can “listen” in the background during a patient’s visit and transcribe physician-patient conversations into text. Cerner’s goal is to create a tool that can then automatically document notes into its electronic health record system. Cerner is in the “initial development” stage of that digital voice scribe project, said Jacob Geers, a solutions strategist at Cerner, in a statement.

Many startups and healthcare technology vendors have been working to develop virtual assistants to help clinicians with documentation in the EHR in recent years.

“Extreme accuracy in clinical documentation is critical to workflows and overall caregiver satisfaction,” Geers said.

Amazon’s new service is designed to transcribe spoken medical dictation for primary care into text, including protected health information covered by HIPAA. That means Transcribe Medical customers will have to sign a business associate agreement with Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud computing arm.

Amazon said its business associate agreements for Transcribe Medical require customers to encrypt all protected health information when using AWS services. Amazon also specified that AWS will not use any protected health information to develop its services.

Amazon charges customers $0.0004 per second for Transcribe Medical, or just less than a quarter of a cent per minute.

To integrate the service, healthcare businesses—including hospitals, health insurers and technology vendors—integrate an application programming interface from Amazon into applications that are set up to use audio and voice. Cerner, for example, linked Amazon’s API into a voice-scribe application.

Transcribe Medical is the latest move in Amazon’s push into the healthcare sector, much of which has revolved around the company’s voice capabilities.

Last week, Amazon released a tool that allows some patients to manage medications using the company’s voice assistant, Alexa, and AWS has entered into research partnerships with healthcare groups like Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance to study how AI and voice services can improve patient care.

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