Oracle’s Larry Ellison outlines health strategy for Cerner

Oracle is building a national database of medical records so doctors can access patient information more easily, Oracle co-founder, board chair and chief technology officer Larry Ellison said Thursday.

“This new health management system will deliver much better information to healthcare professionals,” Ellison said, citing expected improvements like better patient outcomes, more informed public policy and lower healthcare costs. “That is now our primary mission here at Oracle.”

Ellison and other Oracle executives shared plans for the company’s healthcare business at a virtual event Thursday, one day after the company completed its $28.4 billion purchase of electronic health records company Cerner.

While Oracle has referred to Cerner as its “anchor asset” as it expands into healthcare, executives emphasized that the company has been selling software including enterprise resource planning and human resources systems to hospitals and other healthcare organizations for decades.

Here are three of the steps Oracle said it is taking in healthcare. Ellison did not outline a timeline for the projects.

1. A national EHR database. Oracle plans to create a national health records database connected to hospitals’ EHRs, its answer to the lack of interoperability–information systems’ ability to communicate and exchange data. Last year, federal regulations went into effect requiring healthcare organizations to share patient medical data with patients and between systems when requested.

The database Oracle is building would contain all of a patient’s medical data that is kept in systems managed by individual care providers, Ellison said. That way, a provider would have one central place to search for a patient’s medical history.

“That data is up-to-the-second accurate,” he said of the system in development. “The way the system works is we continuously upload electronic health records data from the hospital databases into this national database.”

Providers would need a patient’s consent to access their health records from the database, according to Ellison. Otherwise, the data would be anonymous and made available to public health officials to help inform policy.

2. New technologies for Cerner’s EHR. Ellison laid out plans to add technologies to Millennium, Cerner’s EHR platform. Oracle will encourage medical professionals to develop artificial-intelligence tools, such as algorithms to monitor specific diseases, using Cerner’s software, which could then be integrated into the EHR.

Oracle also will add voice assistant technology into Cerner’s EHR to streamline how clinicians enter data and search for information and to reduce administrative burden. Using AI voice assistants to ease the documentation burden has been an area of interest for other companies, including Microsoft’s Nuance and Cerner competitor Epic Systems.

3. Mobile remote patient-monitoring. Oracle is repurposing V-safe, a product it developed for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention during the pandemic, into a patient-engagement tool for providers.

V-safe, which the CDC uses to check in with patients after they receive a COVID-19 vaccination, sends patients text messages with surveys they fill out about symptoms and side effects. As a patient-engagement system, the technology would provide a way for doctors to communicate with patients and for patients to schedule medical visits, Ellison said. Oracle is expanding the system so it can also collect data from wearable and home diagnostic devices like electrocardiograms, blood-pressure monitors and thermometers.

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