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Merck, Amazon Partner to Launch Diabetes Challenge

The Alexa Diabetes Challenge aims to harness Amazon’s Echo device to advance diabetes care.
Published Online: Apr 17,2017
Laurie Toich, Assistant Editor
Merck and Amazon Web Services recently created the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, which uses the Amazon Echo device, Alexa, to improve the lives of patients with type 2 diabetes.
 
More than 27.5 million Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a chronic disease that requires lifelong blood glucose monitoring for disease control. Increased education and access to better treatments have allowed these patients to live longer, healthier lives, according to a press release.
 
However, patients with diabetes still face lifelong challenges that may impact day-to-day life, including feelings of isolation among newly diagnosed patients.
 
The Alexa Diabetes Challenge invites inventors to develop novel approaches that harness Alexa and cloud technology to improve the lives of patients newly diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, according to the release. These solutions should improve disease management for patients, while considering the needs of stakeholders.
 
Alexa can connect a user with millions of data through the use of a simple voice command, and could potentially be used to help patients achieve disease control.
 
Up to 5 finalists will be selected to receive $25,000 and 10,000 Amazon Web Services (AWS) credits , and enter the Virtual Accelerator. During the Virtual Accelerator, the finalists will receive mentorship to develop their ideas into diabetes interventions.
 
After the Virtual Accelerator, the finalists will present their ideas to judges and the winner will receive a $125,000 grand prize, according to the release.
 
The Merck-AWS partnership will expand to include innovative digital solutions for other chronic diseases, but will initially focus on diabetes.
 
“Merck has a deep heritage of tackling chronic diseases through our medicines, and we have been expanding into other ways to help, beyond the pill,” said Kimberly Park, vice president, Customer Strategy & Innovation, Global Human Health, Merck. “We are excited to leverage the AWS Cloud to find innovative ways to leverage digital solutions, such as voice-activated technology, to help support better outcomes that could make a difference in the lives of those suffering from chronic conditions like diabetes.”
 
The collaboration will harness Merck’s expertise in epidemiology, drug development, research, adherence, and patient education, while also leveraging Amazon’s expertise in web services, devices, and voice interfaces, according to a press release from Merck.
 
“We are pleased to work with Merck to explore how Merck can use the AWS Cloud to help create new solutions within health care that can connect people with information to help improve management of their own health,” said Steve Halliwell, director of health care and life sciences at AWS.