Alexa (Amazon) opens up API, lets use it for Health IT

Home > Alexa (Amazon) opens up API, lets use it for Health IT

Alexa (the search engine) is making its data available on the Web Services platform, and it will open up many uses for healthcare IT entrepreneurs who can use 5 billion pages of information at their disposal or would like to host their own applications in the Amazon server farm. Granted Alexa has absolutely nothing to do specifically with healthcare, but the new web service can be used in some interesting cases for vertically oriented search engines.

Any reason why we can’t modify our software (and HIT vendors to do so, too) that would allow us to present our patients with tailored searches at point of care? For example, when you leave a doctor (assuming he wants to get paid) we know the diagnosis code so why can’t we use that code to do a custom search and provide our patients with a few pages of information about his recent diagnosis? When we prescribe medications we can do the same thing.

Doctors use medical libraries and librarians to do their searches all the time — what keeps us from using an Alexa type engine to create custom libraries, tied to Amazon books which are viewable online? Medical librarians are in big demand these days because the amount of information is going up and the number of people who understand how it’s indexed and retrieved are going down as a percentage of information available. Perhaps we can throw some MD PHd candidates at the index and see what they can come up with? I see some dissertations and theses in the works.

Alexa is charging for its data, but it is totally reasonable.

The first 10,000 requests per month are free. Thereafter, requests are charged at a rate of $.00015 each (just 15 cents per thousand requests.). For example, if you make 100,000 requests to the Alexa Web Information Service during a given month, you will be charged $13.50. Your first 10,000 requests are free, while your remaining 90,000 requests are charged at a rate of $.00015 each: .00015 * 90000 = $13.50.

There are probably a bunch of other uses for an open API with billions of indexed search pages. What do you think?


Shahid N. Shah

Shahid Shah is an internationally recognized enterprise software guru that specializes in digital health with an emphasis on e-health, EHR/EMR, big data, iOT, data interoperability, med device connectivity, and bioinformatics.