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Oracle CloudWorld 2022: Ellison vaunts centrality of healthcare to mission

Oracle CTO Larry Ellison put the company’s healthcare initiatives front and centre of its vision during his keynote at Oracle CloudWorld 2022 in Las Vegas

Oracle chief technology officer (CTO) and founder Larry Ellison put healthcare front and centre of his keynote speech at Oracle CloudWorld 2022 in Las Vegas.

The supplier’s annual conference, formerly known as Oracle OpenWorld, has moved from its traditional home in San Francisco to Sin City. The Venetian hotel and casino now plays host to one of the pioneering companies of Silicon Valley. But, if anything, its very own “Doge” Ellison delivered a keynote laced with an evident passion for human health, following the Covid-19 pandemic.

He commented: “We’ve built fabulous global systems for credit, but not for health. We prioritise shopping way above health, and that is not right.”

Ellison outlined a vision of an electronic patient database sitting on top of the many and varied, dispersed and fragmented databases typical of the US healthcare system.

He propounded the need for partners if Oracle is to make a significantly progressive impact on US and global systems. He returned frequently to the work the supplier has done with the University of Oxford on a Global Pathogen Analysis System. This comprises Oxford’s Scalable Pathogen Pipeline Platform (SP3) running on Oracle Cloud infrastructure.

It aspires to establish a global common standard for assembling and analysing the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as other microbial threats to public health.

He also referred to the US Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) V-safe system that provides health check-ins via text messages and web surveys so vaccinated people can share with CDC how they feel after getting a Covid-19 vaccine. The system was built by Oracle for the CDC in 10 weeks.

This theme of Oracle’s needing partners for its Covid-19 and other healthcare activities led up to Ellison expanding on the vision for its acquisition of Cerner, a healthcare IT provider, in December 2021. Oracle bought Cerner for $28.3bn, marking its largest acquisition since that of cloud applications company NetSuite for $9.3bn in 2016.

Cerner is perhaps best known in the UK for the role of its “Millennium” software in the ill-starred National Programme for IT in the NHS, from the era of Tony Blair’s New Labour “sofa government”.

On announcing Oracle’s intention to acquire Cerner, Ellison said: With this acquisition, Oracle’s corporate mission expands to assume the responsibility to provide overworked medical professionals with a new generation of easier-to-use digital tools that enable access to information via a hands-free voice interface to secure cloud applications. This new generation of medical information systems promises to lower the administrative workload burdening medical professionals, improve patient privacy and outcomes, and lower overall healthcare costs.”

In the Open CloudWorld keynote, Ellison said: “We are working with Cerner to take their existing Millennial clinical system and upgrade it. We will be connected to a patient engagement system.”

He said Oracle’s thesis is that current electronic health record systems are provider- rather than patient-centric, and are dispersed and fragmented across many disconnected databases in the US health system.

He gave the scenario of having an accident, as a visitor to Montana or London. While the healthcare provider would have a wealth of credit and other non-health-related information available to it, it would not have a complete medical picture of the patient who’d had the accident, he said.

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