Over the last couple of years, Amazon appears to have been laying the foundations for a more significant healthcare push. Amazon is hardly the first tech titan to turn its attention to the health space: Google has DeepMind and Verily; the Apple Watch can now offer you an ECG, while IBM is pushing Watson and numerous strands of healthcare industry software. Even Facebook has in the past dipped its toe in the market with a data-sharing project. The reasons for Amazon's interest in the healthcare market are likely to be same ones that the sector appeals to its competitors. "Amazon likes to target two kinds of industry: the first is where they see an opportunity to reform, where it's not the most user friendly of industries, where there's a lack of trust... The second is where they see a lot of uneven profit margins being distributed, where a few companies are making a lot of money, they have high profit margins and customers are unhappy."
Amazon could use its expertise to disrupt everything from the pharmaceutical supply chain to Medicare management. We break down the healthcare areas best suited for an Amazon entrance. Amazon is looking to dominate more than just online retail. The e-commerce behemoth is serious about entering healthcare, bringing with it a non-traditional business model, infrastructure in logistics & computing, and customer love. Many existing health giants are scrambling to compete, while others are looking for ways to Amazon-proof themselves. Between 1999-2000, the company began investing money into Drugstore.com It eventually ran into the existing web of middlemen, regulators, and more, which brought its ambitions to a halt. Now, Amazon is trying again. Earlier this year, it announced a joint healthcare venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway. Before the collaboration, the company acquired online pharmacy PillPack for nearly $1B.
Amazon's AI-enabled digital assistant Alexa is adding to its Skills repertoire with a handful of HIPAA-compliant healthcare services. The e-commerce giant announced on Thursday that it's partnered with six companies, including healthcare providers, to offer a series of Alexa Skills that allow users to consult their digital assistant with a range of health-focused inquiries. The new skills are part of an invite-only program that Amazon said allows only select covered entities and business associates subject to HIPAA (the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) to create specialized skills for healthcare-related services. For its part, Amazon is providing the HIPAA-eligible environment in which the skills are built -- and the company will most certainly use this environment to add more healthcare-related skills over time. The corporate partnerships announced today are with prescription delivery provider Express Scripts; Cigna Health Today, a wellness incentive program for Cigna healthcare customers; ERAS, a children's post-op recovery program operated by Boston Children's Hospital; two urgent care locator services, one by Providence St.
Amazon may be known as the "everything store," but the company's tendrils extend far beyond ecommerce. On Thursday, Amazon said Alexa-enabled devices can now handle customers' sensitive medical data, and it teased the release of a new kit that would allow approved outside developers to build Alexa skills that access users' private health information, paving the way for the voice assistant to play a bigger role in health care. With the announcement came the release of new skills giving Alexa the ability to relay and store blood sugar measurements from internet-connected monitoring devices, help schedule doctors' appointments, pass on post-op instructions from hospitals, and provide prescription delivery updates by securely accessing customers' private medical information. As part of the announcement, Amazon said it had committed to protect personal health information according to the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which protects the privacy of medical records. Alexa's health and wellness team had been working to obtain HIPAA compliance for months.
Do you trust Amazon with your life? You might have to, because the big tech companies of Silicon Valley are looking to do for medicine what they've already done for retail, publishing, finance and other sectors of modern life: they want to bring on another digital revolution. Ever since the Federal government began encouraging health care providers to adopt electronic health records a decade ago, Apple, Google and a slew of Silicon Valley startups have sought to bring about their own vision of telemedicine--turbocharged by data from wearable health-monitoring devices, artificial intelligence and smartphone apps. Apple's bio-monitoring watches and Fitbit, the wearable exercise monitor recently bought by Google, are two prominent examples of products in the market now. Other companies are readying artificial-intelligence products that could augment or replace advice from medical professionals.