Digital health This type of deeplearning text analysis has been used for years in other sectors.However, technological advances that transform other industriesoften come to health care much later. (Photo:Shutterstock)

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Amazon is seeking another potentially profitable way to get intothe health care business. The online retail giantis trying to offer health care providers a way to more quickly andprecisely analyze patient records in data to improve careand reduce costs.

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Although the great majority of providers now use electronic health records, it still remains amajor challenge for doctors and nurses to analyze a patient'smedical history, partially due to the fact that those who createdthe records often misspelled words, entered different variations ofthe patient's name or used different terminology orabbreviations.

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Related: Google's foray into health records raises privacyconcerns

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Amazon claims that it has created a deep learning softwareprogram that can identify the different ways that a doctor mightuse to say the same thing.

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“We're able to completely, automatically look inside medicallanguage and identify patient details with incredibly highaccuracy,” Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence atAmazon Web Services, tells the Wall Street Journal.

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This type of deep learning text analysis has been used for yearsin other sectors. However, technological advances that transformother industries often come to health care much later due tostringent regulations and the simple fact that the stakes areusually much higher. Much of the U.S. economy had become paperlessin 2008, when only 10 percent of health care providers had switchedto electronic health records. It was only after the federalgovernment put in place major incentives for providers to digitizeas part of the 2009 stimulus package that the industry began torapidly move away from paper-based records.

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The new software comes on the heels of a series of other movesAmazon has taken that threaten to disrupt the health care sector.This year the company bought PillPack, a service that deliversprescription drugs to customers' doorsteps. That acquisition hasprompted Walgreens to pilot its own delivery service to prevent itspharmacy customers from migrating to Amazon. Amazon is one of anumber of tech giants that is eyeing $3.2 trillion health careindustry. Google and Apple are also beginning to invest heavily inhealth care ventures.

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More highlights from Amazon's busyyear: 

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