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Amazon-Merck challenge seeks Alexa-enabled diabetes apps

April 15, 2017
  • Pharmaceutical giant Merck and Amazon Web Services launched a contest for developers to channel artificial intelligence for Type 2 diabetes, MobiHealthNews reports.
  • Powered by Luminary Labs, the Alexa Diabetes Challenge aims to spur the creation of mobile apps using Amazon’s Alexa voice-enabled technology for patients recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
  • A new Healthcare IT News and HIMSS Analytics HIT Market Indicator report reveals that about half of U.S. hospitals plan to adopt some type of AI within five years and 23.5% expect to do so within two years. The number of hospitals currently using AI technologies is just shy of 5%.

The challenge allows developers to use Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure as well as Alexa.

Round 1 will have five winners, each of which will receive $25,000 and 100,000 Amazon Web Services credits. The next stage is the Virtual Accelerator, where the five innovators will work with mentors to bring their concepts to fruition, according to the companies. Finalists will present their apps to judges in a pop-up AWS loft in New York. The winner will collect $125,000.

This is not Merck’s first partnership to advance diabetes management. In October, Merck and Aetna announced plans to deliver rebates for Type 2 diabetes medications Januvia and Janumet to patients covered by Aetna commercial plans who meet specified treatment objectives.

A study published in November by JACC Heart Failure found that patients’ risk for heart failure goes up significantly with diabetes, hypertension and obesity. Patients without those conditions had 73% to 85% lower risk of incident heart failure than patients with those risk factors.

Use of AI in healthcare is expected to reach $6 billion by 2021, up from $600 million in 2014, according to a recent Frost & Sullivan report. Cognitive solutions like IBM’s Watson system are capable of sifting through volumes of patient data and providing guidance and decision support.

Innovators have until May 22 to submit their ideas.


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