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‘Hey Alexa!’ Pharmacy Students Build A.I. Program for Top 200 Drugs

More than 300 million patients currently take medications that fall under the top 200 medications prescribed in the United States. Belmont University College of Pharmacy third-year students Angelina Babakitis, Lanoi Chindavanh, Damitea Johnson, Mary Lankford, Inmar Osi and Austin Simmons recently published patient counseling and education for the top 200 prescribed medications on Amazon Alexa.

Amazon Alexa is a voice controlled artificial intelligence (A.I.) platform that has the ability to provide information upon request. As part of the Introduction to Healthcare Informatics curriculum in the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Belmont University, the students worked as a team to develop an application, or “skill,” that is now available in the Alexa store.

The skill, “My Medicine Cabinet,” was designed to increase the access of accurate and relevant drug information to patients and contains information for the top 200 medications currently prescribed in the United States. While none of Alexa’s skills should replace a consultation with a licensed healthcare professional, these skills can be downloaded for free online or through the Alexa app, which is now available for Amazon Fire, Apple and Android devices. To download a skill, choose “Skills” from the Alexa app menu and search for the skill by name. Consumers can download this skill and activate it on demand, answering their questions with pharmacist-verified medication information at their fingertips.

Students in the College of Pharmacy study disease states and current treatment regimens. They also study various ways to communicate with patients and other health care providers. “The main outcome we learned as students was the concept of how to apply our clinical background and utilize technology to address patient needs,” said Osi.

Alexa’s A.I. allows patient counseling to move from the pharmacy to the patient’s living room. “The Amazon Alexa platform has allowed us to create content that is available to a large body of patients,” said Babakitis. “Making this important information easily accessible to patients can have a direct impact on health outcomes and medication safety.”

Dr. Anthony Blash, Pharm.D., BCompSc., CPHIMS, associate professor and lecturer in the College of Pharmacy’s Healthcare Informatics concentration has created a sequence of five courses and a one-month Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiential (APPE) rotation at various sites in the city to prepare Belmont’s student pharmacists to become future leaders in healthcare informatics.

“Nashville is considered by many to be home to the U.S. healthcare industry, with nearly 300 companies providing healthcare synergies found in few other places,” said Blash. “If your interests lie in healthcare and informatics, our program stands apart. Our students have the opportunity to develop an impressive project portfolio during their time at Belmont, working on with many partner organizations on projects such as the creation of smart pump clinical decision supportlive EHR implementationsbecoming Data Analysts while exploring Big Data and Analytics with Microsoft SQL and creating Artificial Intelligence Software for Amazon Alexa.”

As an HIMSS Approved Education Partner, Belmont University’s College of Pharmacy is the only pharmacy school in the world with a healthcare informatics concentration leading to an internationally recognized certification in healthcare informatics, which may be obtained before experiential rotations, residency inquiries and job searches begin. “We also collaborate with organizations during the school year and take on real world projects from our regional partners. We provide free assistance to organizations that may not have access to the resources we provide.” said Blash.

The informatics concentration at Belmont is collaborating with interested organizations to provide competent student and graduate healthcare informaticians with clinical expertise as Advanced Pharmacy Practice Experiential (APPE) rotation students, and hopes to expand their program to include residents and/or fellows. This collaboration would be of no cost to the partnering organization and could help to advance Healthcare Informatics initiatives currently underway or in the planning phase. To find out more about collaborating, please contact Dr. Blash at

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