Amazon develops a new health team for its Alexa division
Following on from its partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and J. P. Morgan, Amazon has been continually looking at opportunities to enter the healthcare industry.
Causing stocks to plunge across the pharmaceutical industry, to working with existing healthcare providers in a number of initiatives, the e-commerce giant is set to explore the potential of its voice-recognition technology further through its new health and wellness team.
CNBC has previously reported that the company has recently launched its new team within its Alexa division, which will be spearheaded by Rachel Jiang.
However, with the vast number of complex HIPAA regulations, and data protection laws, in particular, the newly implemented GDPR rulings within Europe, the company has a tough hill to climb.
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With this in mind, Amazon appointed former Chief Health Informatics Officer, Taha Kass-Hout, who will work alongside Babak Parviz to provide strategic direction and overall oversight of data, analytics and digital health initiatives.
The new team under the Alexa division, named Alexa Domains, will enable the technology to share essential data with healthcare professionals and support new parents, the elderly, and those with long-term health conditions, such as diabetes.
At present, Amazon’s Alexa is being harnessed by a number of healthcare providers across the US, such as The Mayo Clinic, but is also being utilised in the United Kingdom in initiatives to promote breastfeeding. Additionally, Libertana Home Health Care has sought to trial Alexa is a home health care support for the elderly, Slate has reported.
Amazon’s venture into support those with long-term healthcare conditions is not new. Last year, the company sought to partner with Merck to offer a prize to the successful developer who could utilise Alexa ‘skills’ to support those with diabetes. The successful company, Wellpepper’s platform, Sugar Pod, was supported by both companies.
NHS care homes are better than private, report finds
A new survey has found that 60% of people with parents in NHS care homes believe the quality of care has improved, compared to just 49% of respondents with parents in private care facilities.
The survey was conducted by Kepler Vision Technologies, an AI-driven company formed at the University of Amsterdam. It was carried out among UK adults with parents over the age of 75.
Respondents cited more capable care staff and better monitoring systems as being the main reasons for improvement.
However those who do not have parents in assisted living facilities had a different viewpoint - in this case only 35% of respondents believe that NHS facilities are improving, compared to 32% who believe it is only improving in the private sector.
Only 18% of people whose parents live with them or independently believe care home staff are able to look after residents to a good standard.
Kepler Vision say this difference in opinion is due to perceived budget cuts and financial pressures, with 67% of people commenting that a lack of funding has had a negative effect on care in both NHS and private care facilities.
Other key findings of the survey include:
* Out of those who say quality has declined in care homes, 69% say the NHS is dealing with budget cuts and increased financial pressure, while 65% also said that the private system is dealing with these pressures too
* 55% said that they or their parent have money saved specifically to pay for their future care
* 35% said the idea of their parent in a care home makes them feel frightened, although 32% say it makes them feel secure
* 52% are worried about their parent catching COVID
* 47% are worried about their parent being lonely
* 46% are concerned they could fall over alone
The announcement of this research follows the UK government's decision to delay presenting its social care budget till the autumn.
Commenting on the research, Dr Harro Stokman, CEO of Kepler Vision Technologies said: “While it is good to see that people recognise the importance of staff and face-to-face interaction in elderly care, the huge gap in opinion between those with parents in care and those without shows that there are unfair negative perceptions around the residential care space.
"More can and should be done by care homes to give people the confidence that their relatives will receive the very best care - by highlighting the excellent work of staff and how well they are able to monitor resident’s needs with easy-to-use technology.”