Monday 9 December 2019

Amazon wants to record doctor-patient conversations with new online service

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Adrian Weckler

Adrian Weckler

Amazon wants to record doctor-patient conversations to make transcripts less troublesome for medical staff, the company says.

The tech giant’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) subsidiary has just unveiled a voice transcription service called Amazon Transcribe Medical that is being marketed to doctors, first in the US but with other countries set to follow.

The service works by recording physical conversations between a doctor and patient, analysing it and punctuating it using advanced ‘machine learning’. A transcript of the conversation is then made available.

It is aimed at saving doctors time on paperwork in writing up appointments, especially as so many us relatively old fashioned dictation devices. They then either spend hours listening back or email the files off to human transcription services that take a day or two to return the transcripts, often at a cost of hundreds of euro.

AWS says that the security and data processing attached to the recordings meet strict US medical industry standards and are also “GDPR ready” in relation to Europe’s tougher data processing safeguards.

The new service is based on Amazon’s current transcription service, Amazon Transcribe.

“Our overarching goal is to free up the doctor, so they have more attention going to where it should be directed,” Matt Wood, vice president of artificial intelligence told CNBC at AWS’s annual ‘Invent’ conference in Las Vegas. “And that’s to the patient.”

However, the new Transcribe Medical service will only be available to AWS customers.

Amazon Web Services has some form in this area. Last year, it launched a service called Amazon Comprehend Medical.

This “allows developers to process unstructured medical text and identify information such as patient diagnosis, treatments, dosages, symptoms and signs, and more,”the company said.

Voice transcription services are an increasingly competitive market, with companies such as Microsoft and Google investing heavily in the technologies involved. Smaller companies such as Otter.ai have also become popular in niche sectors, such as the media business.

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