Amazon unveils cloud, voice initiatives to address opioid addiction

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Amazon introduced a slate of initiatives targeted toward supporting patients with opioid use disorder Oct. 24, in honor of the opioid bill President Donald Trump recently signed into law.

President Trump signed the SUPPORT for Patients and Communities Act Oct. 24 to increase the country's opioid crisis response efforts. The bill aims to improve patient access to treatment services by removing various restrictions on Medicaid and Medicare and to encourage government agencies to research non-addictive drugs for patient pain management, among other efforts.

The White House invited 21 private sector and nonprofit partners to the bill signing — including Amazon — all of which pledged to help solve the national opioid crisis. Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy at Amazon, attended the billing signing on behalf of the e-commerce giant's AWS Opioid Crisis Council.

One of Amazon's commitments is to use its cloud computing service, Amazon Web Services, to help first responders "more efficiently" access patients' medical records when appropriate, according to Mr. Huseman. Amazon will also use its cloud-based analytics tools to identify fraudulent data held in state-run prescription drug monitoring programs.

Amazon didn't specify how it would achieve this vision, but said it would continue to facilitate "ongoing dialogue between some of the brightest minds in healthcare" as part of its AWS Opioid Crisis Council. Its initial projects emerged from an inaugural AWS Opioid Crisis Council meeting the company held in August, where it convened a panel of healthcare and public health experts to discuss factors that contribute to the epidemic.

In a move focused on the patient population, Amazon also said it had partnered with the Ad Council — a producer and distributor of public service announcements — and the Truth Campaign — a national anti-tobacco campaign — to program its voice assistant Alexa to answer users' questions about the opioid epidemic, such as how to access treatment and recovery services.

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