The Challenge Voice
Welcome to the official blog of the Alexa Diabetes Challenge. Read the latest news and announcements and go behind-the-scenes with the Challenge team.

Blog Post

August 7, 2017
Inside the Innovators’ Boot Camp at Amazon
The 5 finalists head to Seattle to work with our experts

On July 25-26, the five finalists convened at Amazon’s headquarters in Seattle, WA for the Innovators’ Boot Camp. During this two-day program the finalists gained new insight and perspectives that will inform their solutions as they compete for the $125,000 grand prize. Content included a deep focus on the patient experience, with sessions led by experts in diabetes education, healthcare innovation, and type 2 diabetes patients themselves. The finalists also worked directly with the Amazon Web Services team to explore how to harness Amazon services for transformative healthcare solutions.

Our Boot Camp experts made this two-day event invaluable for the finalists, and we extend a big thank you for their contributions.

Here are 5 highlights from the Innovators’ Boot Camp:

1.  Thinking Big: The Voice Opportunity is Here

Stan Kachnowski, Chair of HITLAB, kicked off the expert talks on day one, exploring how voice promises to remove the single largest barrier to computer interactions in history: the need for a keyboard to connect. He shared how the diffusion of voice technology is rapidly accelerating, and inspired the finalists to think bigger about the opportunity for voice to be a vehicle for immense transformation.

2.  Pulling the Levers for Motivation

Behavior change specialist, Amy Bucher from Mad*Pow, and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) and PharmD, Marika Saarinen from Virginia Mason Hospital, joined to share their strategies for behavior change. Bucher challenged the finalists to help patients tap into self motivation versus external influences. For voice tech solutions specifically, this means incorporating features that add meaningful personalization and provide challenges for the patients to keep them engaged.

Saarinen discussed her personal experience working with type 2 diabetes patients, sharing anecdotes of successful treatment and lifestyle strategies. Her care approach begins with developing personal relationships and involves tailoring care to individual preferences and needs. These insights will inform how the finalists build behavior change into their solution design.

3.  Hearing from the Patients Themselves

In preparation for meeting actual people living with diabetes, the Luminary Labs team took the finalists through a patient empathy exercise, asking them to imagine a patient persona and immerse themselves in the patient experience by responding to scenarios from that perspective.

The finalists then heard from a panel of six patients who had been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The patients covered everything from the emotional journey during diagnosis to how they utilize apps and devices. Sharing diverse perspectives, these patients made it clear that there is no such thing as the “typical” type 2 diabetes patient profile.

The panelists shared deeply personal moments from their treatment journeys. One woman told the finalists that her mantra has become, “Life is short, I have to ask myself ‘what I am I doing to make it longer?’”

4.  Flexing the Technology: Behind-the-scenes with the AWS Team

Dario Rivera, Vikram Anbazhagan, and Niranjan Hira from the Amazon Web Services (AWS) team spoke about the future of voice technology and its impact on healthcare. For a near-term view, they also walked through the roadmap for Amazon Lex, including HIPAA eligibility considerations. One highlight was the deep dive into what makes a compelling voice-first solution. Niranjan Hira, Enterprise Solutions Architect at AWS, offered practical advice on topics such as adapting to the average user’s attention span, creating emphasis and opportunities for confirmation, and building in mechanisms for managing miscommunications.

5.  Sitting Down with the Experts

To wrap up day 2, the finalists participated in a “round robin” session, rotating through working meetings with 10 experts in diabetes management, health tech, data privacy, AI, voice technology, and voice user experience. This session was a finalist favorite, as they received individualized feedback and coaching that will help them prepare their solutions for Demo Day.

A big thank you to our Boot Camp experts:

Amy Bucher, Behavior Change Design Director, Mad*Pow
Conor Colgan, Solutions Architect, ClearDATA
Aaron Friedman, Technology Lead – Healthcare and Life Sciences, AWS
Niranjan Hira, Enterprise Solutions Architect, AWS
Stan Kachnowski, Chair, HITLAB
Elliot Menschik, Startup Business Development – Healthcare and Life Sciences, AWS
Dario Rivera, Senior Solutions Architect – Healthcare and Life Sciences, AWS
Marika Saarinen, CDE, Virginia Mason Hospital
Navneet Srivastava, Senior Solutions Architect – Healthcare and Life Sciences, AWS

What’s Next
The Virtual Accelerator journey is just beginning for our five finalists. Over the next two months, they will continue to iterate their proposals and work with the Challenge mentors in preparation for Demo Day, which will close out the Virtual Accelerator. At Demo Day the finalists will present their solutions in-person to the judges at the AWS Pop-up Loft in NYC. The judging panel will assess the finalists’ solutions and select a winner to receive the $125,000 grand prize.

Stay tuned to hear more from the finalists as they advance through the Virtual Accelerator.