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Brave New World; Amazon’s Health Care Strategy

Amazon box and caduceus symbolizing entry into health tech - Amazon Healthcare Strategy.

The biggest tech companies are developing their own health care units. Google Health and Microsoft’s HealthVault are notable attempts, but have not had significant success. Apple seems to be on the path to victory with their Apple Watch and different health apps.  Furthermore, Amazon is now working with their own secret development team. It’s a bold idea, that has caught on across the board.

Telemedicine will enable users to consult with virtual doctors, as well as with remote physicians and specialists.

Amazon’s team is called 1492, an obvious play on “New World, and Columbus.” It is based in Seattle, WA, and until recently, had its members listed in LinkedIn under “ a1.492..” The in-house development team has machine learning experts, a user interface designer, and strategic initiative leads.

With the way Amazon is developing right now, it would not be farfetched to think that they are working on both software and hardware health care innovations. There are already several health care apps for the Echo and Echo Dot. However, these have been created by third-party developers called “Skills”, which are extensions for the AI capabilities of Alexa.

Earlier this year, the British Red Cross launched a “Skill” which provides Echo owners with step-by-step instructions for first aid. The Skill gives clear, easy to understand instruction for people to follow in case of emergencies like severe bleeding, a burn, or a seizure.

Amazon Goes for Hospitals and Pharma

Amazon has already hired health experts who can help the company win contracts from large hospitals and pharmaceutical firms. These are the very same companies in which Google and Microsoft are aiming for. However, with the brain trust Amazon has recruited, the updated software is going to be a lot more than just another “Skill”. Although it is not yet clear if Amazon will create a new hardware, they do have the capability to develop one.

cell phone and question mark with pills.

Amazon, through Alexa, has the capability to collate data from users, as well as from legacy medical documentation systems. With that capability and the big data set, it can serve as an intermediary between the patient and their doctors.

According to reports, one reason why the Affordable Care Act (ACA) seems to be hard to use is due to the lack of data flowing between patients and doctors, as well as from hospitals and other health care providers. Experts have claimed that with the right technology, people can use ACA data to search for cheaper hospitals and services – something a cash-strapped individual can make use of.

The value of information is tremendous. With big data access, Amazon can create an electronic medical record repository of their own, as well as be able to do remote diagnostics (also called telemedicine). Telemedicine will enable users to consult with virtual doctors, as well as with remote physicians and specialists.

Although not completely related, Amazon is also rumored to want to join the health care industry by delivering medicines across the US. Amazon already delivers medical supplies through its stores. As the largest online marketplace, it can include drugs to its product line, creating a pharmaceutical business.

Amazon Cloud Services is also in a unique position, where it can create cloud services specifically tailored for hospitals and doctor’s clinics. And that is a bold action that has the potential for huge impact.

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