Amazon Health might soon become a reality
Wednesday, August 02, 2017
In what has become healthcare's worst-kept secret, Amazon has started a secret lab to pursue healthcare opportunities with a focus on such efforts as electronic medical records and even telemedicine, according to a recent report by CNBC. Thus, in a world where Amazon seems to own everything, it now appears that the firm wants to try to take over one of the nation's largest economic drivers — healthcare.
Amazon has become increasingly interested in exploring new business in healthcare, and these possible technology investments would signal no small entry point. If true, this would be a major run at the very heart of healthcare — where data, access and interfaces with both patients and caregivers live.
Specifically, per the CNBC report, Amazon has dubbed this stealth team 1492, "which appears to be a reference to the year Columbus first landed in the Americas." This secret lab is based in Seattle and is "focused on both hardware and software projects," according to sources.
This would not be Amazon's first foray into healthcare, as the company has been selling medical supplies for several years. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos — who is contending to become the world's richest person — also has another unit exploring selling pharmaceuticals.
"The new team is currently looking at opportunities that involve pushing and pulling data from legacy electronic medical record systems," CNBC reports. "If successful, Amazon could make that information available to consumers and their doctors."
Regarding telemedicine, Amazon clearly has the chops to compete in the virtual world of connected services and can obviously build a platform for telemedicine, "which, in turn, could make it easier for people to have virtual consultations with doctors," per the news agency.
Apparently, too, according to the rumors and inside sources, the Amazon health group is supposedly "exploring health applications for existing Amazon hardware, including Echo and Dash Wand." Amazon may also develop its own healthcare devices.
Per Healthcare Dive, CNBC's initial report cited job listings for 1492 on Amazon's job site "as well as team members who had mentioned their affiliation on LinkedIn. Those included two machine learning experts, a UX designer and two strategic initiative leads." Those references where quickly removed.
Amazon has also invested in a health startup called Grail for its cloud business.
The market opportunity is enormous: Former White House CTO Aneesh Chopra, who has been highly involved in efforts to digitize health operations but had no prior knowledge of the Amazon effort, told CNBC "anyone who aspires to help consumers navigate our health system and is digitally capable should find the market conditions ripe for entry."
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