COVID-19 brought into focus the tremendous challenge of healthcare workforce development and retention. The World Health Organization called the level of anxiety, stress, and depression among health and care workers a “pandemic within a pandemic.”
In the US, the surgeon general highlighted health worker burnout as an urgent challenge, and the picture is similar across the world. All 53 European and central Asian countries in WHO’s European Region currently face health workforce challenges, and WHO reports that in some areas as many as nine out of 10 nurses declared an intention to quit their jobs.
Globally, millions of patients have experienced delays in care that can lead to worse health, prolonged recovery and decreased chances of survival because of healthcare staffing challenges.
At Amazon Web Services (AWS), we believe technology can be a key enabler in addressing these challenges. In a subset from a new Gallup and AWS survey, 70% of 845 healthcare business and IT leaders from 19 countries indicated that digital technologies need to be implemented to improve their organization’s performance. And, two thirds of more than 2,000 global survey respondents working in human health, residential care, and social work roles said they were “very interested” in digital skills training (69%). Additionally, workers with advanced digital skills were more than twice as likely to rate their employment satisfaction as an 8 out of 10 or higher, compared with those who only use basic digital skills (79% vs. 38%).
Driving new digital solutions for the global healthcare workforce
Supporting and protecting the healthcare workforce is an essential investment in the continuity of health services. That’s why AWS is choosing to focus on training, retaining, and deploying healthcare workers with the launch of a new AWS Healthcare Accelerator. This is AWS’s first ever global healthcare cohort focused on workforce development.
The AWS Healthcare Accelerator is a virtual four-week technical, business, and mentorship program. Selected startups receive up to $25,000 in AWS computing credits, specialized AWS training, mentoring from healthcare domain and technical subject matter experts, business development, go-to-market guidance, investment guidance, and potential proof-of-concept opportunities with public sector healthcare customers. Startups are also able to hear from AWS customers and members of the AWS Partner Network.
AWS is seeking applications from startups focused on one or more of the following areas:
Training workforce: This includes innovations that make learning more interesting and customized in areas such as continuous professional development (CPD) and rapid digital skill upskilling. Eligible solutions may, for example, leverage machine learning (ML) for customized learning and rapid assessment, augmented reality (AR)/virtual reality (VR) simulation training for healthcare, and enablement training for new ways of working.
Retaining workforce: This includes innovations that reduce individual workloads by removing friction from work processes and systems, and innovations that enable wellbeing and flexible working. Eligible solutions may, for example, use technology to streamline clinical work flows, automate repetitive or routine tasks, upskill existing roles, or outsource basic tasks to artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled solutions.
Deploying workforce: This includes technologies that support new ways of working in healthcare in virtual wards, community settings, and home care settings. Eligible solutions may, for example, use technology that monitors data to safely deploy mobile workforces or collaborative tools that empower patients and reduce repetitive tasks.
This accelerator cohort builds on the $40 million commitment to the AWS Health Equity Initiative, through which $14 million has been awarded across 90 global organizations to date, as well as the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative, a $20 million commitment to help organizations around the world that use AWS to drive diagnostic innovations. AWS has also supported healthcare startups in previous accelerator cohorts, including the program’s inaugural cohort, a cohort dedicated to startups in the U.K., and most recently, a cohort focused on health equity.
A customized, comprehensive program for startups
Through the accelerator, startups can experiment with AWS technologies and accelerate growth with foundational knowledge of cloud architecture, operations, and data. The Gallup/AWS survey found that leaders from healthcare organizations that leverage the cloud were four times as likely to report having introduced a new product or service in the past two years and more than twice as likely to report steady revenue growth compared with leaders from organizations who don’t use the cloud (60% vs. 14% and 55% vs. 25%, respectively).
Selected startups also have the benefit of networking with AWS healthcare customers and partners on topics such as defining business models, regulatory pathways, clinical validation, electronic health record integration, and more. Some of these institutions include: American Hospital Association (US), CATI (Spain), Hospital Albert Einstein (Brazil), MassGeneral Brigham (US), National Health Service (NHS) Herefordshire and Worcestershire Integrated Care Board (UK), Northern Care Alliance (UK), Provincial Health Services Authority of British Columbia (Canada), and Royal Papworth Hospital (UK). The program culminates with a demo day, where startups showcase their technology.
“The AWS Healthcare Accelerator was such a great experience,” said Jennifer Blumenthal, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) at OneRecord, part of the inaugural AWS Healthcare Accelerator cohort. “The program, the people, and the doors opened for us had a huge impact on OneRecord’s trajectory over the past year. Demo day to acquisition in one year is pretty amazing.”
Startups from anywhere in the world with a validated solution, existing customers and revenue, and that use or seek to use AWS to help solve these challenges in healthcare workforces will be considered to participate. Startups operating outside of healthcare with relevant, evidence-based solutions can also apply as an opportunity to evaluate their solution’s fit within healthcare.
While open to startups worldwide, accelerator programming will be delivered in two time zones: one in the US, and one in Europe, Middle East, and North Africa (EMEA). Delivered in collaboration with AlchemistX and Plexal, 20 global startups will be chosen – 10 who will attend US time zone programming, and 10 who will attend EMEA time zone programming. Both cohorts will be delivered over the same period, sharing common relevant content, with region-specific approaches for other sections of the program such as regulations and go to market.
Apply by January 8, 2023
Applications are judged on several factors, including the innovative and unique nature of the applicant company, the overall value the solution brings to the healthcare industry, the creative application of AWS to solve workforce problems, and a startup’s experience and ability to deliver results.
Applications open today and must be submitted no later than January 8, 2023. Programming will begin in April 2023, and will have a mix of virtual and in-person components. To learn more and apply, visit the AWS Healthcare Accelerator: Global Cohort for Workforce website.