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Amazon Web Services announces $40M in credits to combat health care inequities

Max Peterson, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector at Amazon Web Services, joins Yahoo FInance Live to discuss the company's latest efforts to compat inequities in health care.

Video Transcript

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- Amazon's AWS is announcing a new program to support companies looking to reduce inequities in health care. AWS will commit $40 million over three years as part of the effort through a combination of AWS computing credits and technical expertise. Joining us for more is Max Peterson, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector at AWS. Yahoo Finance tech editor Dan Howley is here as well. Max, good to see you this morning here. What are you seeing in your business that made you launch this program?

MAX PETERSON: You know, what we've seen over the past 18 months is customers, researchers all working diligently to solve the-- the COVID-19 pandemic. And now we've got the opportunity on the other side of this to start looking at how we address some of the other fundamental things, the inequities that we've discovered that-- that really the COVID-19 pandemic has laid bare.

DAN HOWLEY: Max, this is Dan. You know, I'm obviously going over and looking at what you guys are announcing today. And you know, you say that companies are going to be getting this $40 million in credits to be able to develop these kinds of approaches. I guess, what are some of the means by which people, businesses, organizations who could qualify for this would be able to further improve health in, kind of you know, underserved areas?

MAX PETERSON: Yeah, very good question. Thanks, Dan. There's really three different areas that we're helping companies, health care providers, commercial organizations, and even our AWS partner network community to address.

So, the first one is really increasing access to health services for underserved communities. In fact, today, approximately half of the world's population does not have access to basic health care. This program is aimed at helping people develop tools like telehealth and telemedicine, so that they can reach remote or marginalized communities, do things like remote patient monitoring, and basically just increase the availability and accessibility of some of these health services that really have become bedrocks for the health system during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The second area really is in the area of social determinants of health. We have found that environmental factors play a big role, where people are born, where they live, where they work, in their ability to get a wide range of health care. And so this is going to allow companies that leverage technology to harness AWS services to be able to look into the broader social, socio-economic, and environmental factors that play a role.

And then thirdly, leveraging data to promote more equitable and inclusive systems of care can really be done on, you know, at scale on the AWS cloud, because it takes massive amounts of data. And by using and analyzing things like global averages, health statistics, we think that our customers and our partners will be able to create new data sets to increase the representation of underserved or underrepresented communities so that we've got more accurate data sets for health about race, and ethnicity, and gender, and disability.

DAN HOWLEY: I guess, how else have you seen, you know, has this been something that companies have been using or organizations using during the pandemic, you know, as far as getting people online who wouldn't necessarily otherwise have access, things along those lines? How has this really worked throughout the pandemic prior to this announcement?

MAX PETERSON: Yeah, that's a great question because that's what we have learned, as we've seen, as experimented with customers, for instance, the Rush University Medical Center. We've been long-standing partners with Rush, and they are long-standing advocates for better health equity. And so in the Chicagoland area, we worked with Rush to harness the power of AWS to do the health analytics data hub. And that's providing more access to more information. It's cleansing it and making it available to health care, and clinicians, and researchers.

Another example would be, for instance, the-- it's a good one, it's called health impacts, "Trust a Nurse." And so what we've done is worked with California to be able to-- it's a nonprofit-- to be able to make access to health care workers for all of the different data available through telehealth.

- Max, how big a setback would a government shutdown be to what you're trying to do here?

MAX PETERSON: You know, we rely upon a wide community of health care researchers, academic medical centers, and I think most of those organizations are going to continue on serving the customers as they need to. While it-- while it is disruptive, I believe that as long as it's resolved quickly, we'll see that all of the health care providers that we work with will be able to continue doing their good work.

- Hey there, it's Julie. I'm going to chime in on this, too. Can I ask more broadly about the government shutdown, because obviously you guys are a big government contractor. Forget about health care for a moment, or putting aside health care for a moment, let's not forget about it, obviously, if there's a government shutdown, what kind of hit could that be to your revenue?

MAX PETERSON: Well, AWS continues to serve all of our government customers and their missions through these types of disruptions. We've seen it before, and we've just found that customers who rely upon the cloud are able to continue operations easily.

In fact, we saw this during the pandemic. Remote access became the way that everybody had to work. And when you've got all of your systems and you've got your resources running on the cloud, it doesn't matter if you're in your office. It doesn't matter if your away. Essential workers, wherever they're at, will be able to get access to the systems to keep government moving.

- Max Pearson, Vice President of Worldwide Public Sector at AWS. Good to see you this morning. Good to see you as well, Yahoo Finance's Dan Howley.