Amazon Web Services (AWS) for Health

September 20, 2021

Since its founding in 1994, Amazon has grown from an online bookseller to a multinational tech company that supports digital streaming, e-commerce, and artificial intelligence. In 2002, Amazon launched subsidiary Amazon Web Services (AWS) to provide data concerning Internet traffic patterns, site popularity, and other marketing and development statistics. And in July, Amazon Web Services introduced “AWS for Health,” a broad range of services intended to support life science and healthcare organizations in reaching their goals (Jercich, 2021). The healthcare and life science industries are constantly evolving in an increasingly digital world, as evidenced by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic that saw Americans across the nation rely more heavily on telehealth and digital solutions. The move towards digital transformation affects health systems that are looking for ways to decrease operational costs, enable data-driven decision-making for clinicians, and even “improve health data interoperability” while keeping such data secure and private (Combes, 2021). This shift continues to create opportunities for large tech companies like Amazon to enter the complex and highly regulated healthcare and life science space.

In an introductory blog post, the head of technology for healthcare and life sciences Patrick Combes wrote that these services will “help organizations increase the pace of innovation, unlock the potential of health data, and develop more personalized approaches to therapeutic development and care (Combes, 2021).” He also outlined potential uses across sixteen critical solution areas in healthcare, biopharma, and genomics. According to Amazon, AWS for Health will allow healthcare organizations to accelerate data digitalization and utilization; for example, a health system could use an AWS for Health service to create and maintain electronic health records for patients. Other AWS services within healthcare could be used as analytics and machine learning tools to survey data and derive insights (Combes, 2021). Amazon HealthLake is one such tool of particular interest to healthcare and life science industry leaders. The HIPAA-eligible service uses machine learning to extract medical information from unstructured data, and then “organize, index, and store” that information in chronological order; Amazon claims that the software makes it easier for practitioners, organizations, and medical researchers to collaborate remotely (Land, 2021). The rollout of AWS for Health included expanded availability for Amazon HealthLake, which was first made available in December 2020 for eastern and western regions in the U.S. (Jercich, 2021).

While this move brings Amazon’s health-focused offerings under one umbrella, many of the services have been available for years. Piedmont Athens Regional, a health system in Georgia, was one of the first to use Amazon Web Services to house patient data (Jercich, 2021). And Boston-area system Wellforce announced in July that it would follow suit and switch from its Epic infrastructure to the AWS cloud. Biopharmaceutical company Moderna uses AWS services for its digital operations and communications (Land, 2021). For regional healthcare systems, smaller life science organizations, and startups alike, AWS for Health signals continued progression towards digital transformation within the industry.


Combes, P. (2021, July 15). Introducing AWS for Health – Accelerating innovation from benchtop to bedside. 

Jercich, K. (2021, July 16). Amazon web Services Introduces AWS for health. Healthcare IT News.  

Land, H. (2021, July 19). Amazon rolls out AWS for Health cloud services for healthcare, genomics and biopharma. Fierce Healthcare.