The tech titan’s cloud-computing division Amazon Web Services (AWS) released a new voice transcription tool, dubbed Amazon Transcribe Medical, that transcribes doctor-patient conversations, which can later be inputted into patient medical records, CNBC reports. Hospitals have launched programs on top of Amazon’s voice technology to streamline staff workflows and appease patient interest — but this time, Amazon is at the helm of development, with help from healthcare partners like Cerner and voice tech company Suki.
Amazon’s voice-powered scribe could assuage many burdens plaguing provider organizations that stem from EHR documentation:
- Namely, Amazon is using its voice tech to tackle one of healthcare’s most pressing issues: doctor burnout. About 60% of physicians tag administrative tasks like note-taking and charting as a top culprit driving rampant physician burnout. And voice tech has shown incredible promise to effectively clamp down on the number of nonclinical tasks doctors must perform: A separate voice-powered scribe created by Suki cut down doctors’ time spent on medical notes by 70%, for instance.
- Voice-powered tools allow physicians to amass comprehensive notes without employing human scribes, who can be prone to inaccuracies and further muddle operations for docs. Since the birth of EHR systems, provider organizations have turned to medical scribes to alleviate doctors’ clinical documentation burdens: There will be an estimated 100,000 medical scribes employed in the US in 2020 — up from 20,000 in 2015, per Apixio. But note-taking sidekicks come with some problems: Medical scribes aren’t clinically licensed and may lack exposure to the clinical space, which can cause inaccurate health data reporting and lead to costly medical errors or tack on more work for docs who need to scan notes to find errors. Instead, utilizing voice-to-transcription solutions that fully transcribe doctor-patient interactions could lead to a more accurate trove of notes that can steer more precise care.
Even though widespread admin headaches are likely spurring demand for tools like Amazon Transcribe Medical, Amazon will have to contend with stiff competition from other big tech firms and heightened distrust of tech giants handling health data.
- Amazon is up against rivals looking to get similar products through hospital doors. Because we’re seeing competitors Microsoft and Google — which are also developing similar voice transcription tools — crank up the heat on forging cloud partnerships with health systems, Amazon could run into some challenges getting its tech into hospital rooms if its competitors beat it to the punch.
- Physicians and consumers are becoming more skeptical of big tech’s ability to handle sensitive health info. The recent cloud tie-up between Google and health system Ascension that kept both patients and doctors in the dark spawned questions about the pair’s data-sharing practices — and these concerns couldn’t be assuaged by the fact that the tie-up was HIPAA compliant. Further, just 10% of US consumers would readily share their health data with tech giants — and less than half of that segment would be willing to share their health data with Amazon, per Rock Health. It’s likely then that Amazon’s voice tool, which is HIPAA eligible, could breed skepticism among doctors who’ll want to maintain trust with — and business from — patients, which could further hinder adoption.