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Amazon is bringing its AWS cloud computing platform to a consortium of Pittsburgh researchers. The tech giant isteaming upwith the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance (PHDA) through a machine learning (ML) sponsorship to expedite research and product commercialization across several projects, including the development of cancer risk scores to inform patient treatment.

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For context, the PHDA was created in 2015 to direct the combined talents of researchers from the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC), the University of Pittsburgh, and Carnegie Mellon toward clinical solutions, powered by big data in healthcare.

Here’s what it means:PHDA’s partnership with Amazon highlights how providers can close the distance between interest and effective implementation of AI as well as to unlock the tech’s potential to transform clinical decision making and generate massive savings.

  • There’s a massive opportunity to tap into the mountains of health data being generated each day to inform treatment and improve patient outcomes. For example, by applying ML to genetic data analysis, Intermountain Healthcare improved cancer patients’ progression-free survival rates by92%.
  • AI also offers an enormous cost-savings opportunity. AI-generated healthcare savings are projected to hit$150 billionby 2025, per Frost & Sullivan. This will be fueled in part by reductions in treatment costs, as AI diagnostics regularly achieves faster and more accurate diagnoses than human doctors. For example, a 2018 Stanford study found that an ML algorithm was able to scan and diagnose X-rays over100 times fasterthan radiologists and with comparable or better accuracy for the majority of pathologies presented in the study.
  • But while there’s a great deal of interest in AI among providers — they don’t all yet know how to best implement the tech. Over40%of healthcare executives peg AI as the technology that will have the biggest impact on their organization over the next three years, per Accenture. And50%of US providers say they’re using AI and data visualization to improve clinical decision making — yet only 26% say that the tech is being used “very” or “extremely” effectively in their organization. So, it makes sense why providers and research groups would seek out third-party partnerships with big, tech-savvy company’s like Amazon to help close that gap.

The bigger picture:If Amazon continues to land big healthcare partnerships for AWS, it could further cement its position as the No. 1 cloud computing provider and complicate competitors’ growth strategies.

AWS reigns supreme when it comes to cloud computing — and Amazon’s interest in healthcare applications makes it an even bigger threat to its rivals. Over50%of the global cloud computing market will be controlled by Amazon’s AWS by the end of the year, with the second largest piece of the pie going to Microsoft Azure (22%), per Goldman Sachs projections provided to Business Insider.

With healthcare organizations poised to spend over$11 billionon cloud computing this year, there’s a lot of money on the table that Amazon and Microsoft are playing for. And tensions between the two tech juggernauts are bubbling up after Microsoft announced it wouldincreasecosts for customers using its tech on non-Azure servers — an aggressive move seemingly directed at Amazon.

Last month, we covered how Microsoft ispivotingtoward enterprise solutions in healthcare and likely sees partnerships in the space as a way to shore up broader weakness in the global cloud computing market. But if Amazon is able to position itself as a more attractive option for healthcare organizations through research partnerships a la its tie up with PHDA, we think Microsoft could find itself scrambling to make up ground in its fight to usurp Amazon as king of cloud.

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