• Amazon Web Services (AWS) earmarked $40 million over the next three years to support organizations working to advance healthcare equity over the next three years via AWS credits and technical support
• This is a follow on to a program AWS launched in 2020 to improve health diagnostics in which it has so far assisted 87 organizations in 17 countries
AWS is flexing a fairly mighty philanthropic muscle with a new program dedicated to advancing global healthcare equity and improving medical outcomes. By offering qualified non-profits, research institutions, and other organizations computing credits, technology, and other supports, AWS is hoping to advance an agenda to better support underserved and underrepresented communities. The program is directed to organizations developing cloud-based healthcare solutions.
The AWS program is targeted at organizations that are addressing any of three major imperatives: Expanding access to health services; lessening disproportionate negative health outcomes in underrepresented communities by addressing root causes of disease and illness; and tapping into larger data sets to promote equitable care systems.
Much of the focus on health equity is related to the pandemic. Many of the comorbidities associated with poor COVID-19 outcomes disproportionately affected minorities and other underserved populations. A number of tech companies have stepped in to try to get a better handle on data for both diagnostic and treatment purposes.
Inspired in part by work its current clients are already doing in the healthcare space, AWS cited some prominent examples of the work its own customers are doing currently to improve outcomes. The National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHIT) rolled out its Data Fusion Center on AWS to help overcome inter-governmental data sharing obstacles and translate Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) – or root cause – data into important insights.
Non-profit HealthImpact introduced Trust a Nurse, Ask a Nurse a telehealth service working with community-based organizations in California to educate the under-resourced communities about COVID-19 and vaccines. The service which also runs on AWS provides patients with direct access to nurses for no cost to the patients.
Chicago-based Rush University Medical Center launched its Population Health Analytics Hub to delve into clinical and social factors that cause premature cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. The project expands on the COVID-19 analytic hub Rush built on AWS during the pandemic to integrate patient and operational data for better outcomes.
This is not AWS first foray into work to help improve healthcare outcomes. Early last year AWS created the Diagnostic Development Initiative (DDI) to help organizations expedite COVID-19 diagnostics research and development. AWS offered organizations $20 million in compute credits to improve diagnostic innovation. This work continues in tandem with the new initiative.
Nor is AWS alone in its work to advance the healthcare equity agenda. In 2020, rival Microsoft launched its five year $60 million philanthropic AI for Health program to fund projects that leverage artificial intelligence and other technology to improve diagnostics, treatments, and general access to healthcare. Microsoft awarded more than 180 grants in the first 15 months of the program.
And earlier this year, Google with a team of Google.org Fellows and the Satcher Health Leadership Institute at the Morehouse School of Medicine introduced the Health Equity Tracker (HET) a public platform that provides a graphic representation of health inequities that afflict minority communities.