In a bid to disrupt the healthcare space, outside players like Amazon have started venturing into the estimated $3.5 trillion sector. It all started with an employer health initiative in partnership with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway in an effort to rethink healthcare and address the issue of rising cost benefits. The company aims to provide US employees and their families simple and cost-effective, but quality healthcare. In June 2018, Amazon purchased internet pharmacy start-up PillPack, which provides patients in 49 US states with prepackaged doses based on their prescription. It has since looked at medical diagnostics, specifically at-home testing and filed a patent for Alexa to detect a cold or cough. More health products are being introduced on its platform and it has also started its own employee health clinic.
Amazon and How it May Change Healthcare
Let’s say that health data could help identify at-risk individuals and preventative measures are sent to them through text messages. In case of complications, a doctor’s appointment could be set up virtually, and then a prescription ordered by the doctor based on symptoms could land at the patient’s door. This is one of the ways Amazon could change healthcare as it becomes a bigger player. Amazon has a plethora of resources at its disposal, be it 80 million Amazon Prime customers, online data platforms, virtual personal assistants or an extensive supply chain to help it navigate the healthcare sector. Amazon has also proven to be capable when it comes to handling large volumes of transactions and using Big Data to improve businesses.
Amazon could easily incorporate its existing technologies like Alexa, Echo and Dash to change the way healthcare is accessed by patients. These innovations could be of help in remote or rural areas where consumers can order and receive quality healthcare. It may allow patients to be monitored virtually, thereby lowering healthcare costs. The advantage it has is its already prevalent customer base and voice-based technologies that could enable patients to speak orders instead of typing long messages. Amazon could build its in-house expertise by partnering with an experienced healthcare company and tread carefully as far as regulations are concerned, test the ground and eventually become an efficient and bigger player.
The healthcare industry is dealing with many concerns like soaring prices, shortage of supply and inaccessibility has led to adopting of newer technologies like AI. Disrupters like Amazon have spotted these trends and are seeing opportunities for value-based care. The healthcare costs have been rising and there is a shortage of physicians and nursing staff. Newer health risks can be addressed and digital healthcare organizations may become more popular and AI could change healthcare in big ways. In the healthcare sector, increasing efficiency could set Amazon apart from its competitors. Be it providing services, and facilitating payments, efficiency can increase profitability for Amazon. This, in turn, could compel other players to increase their efficiency in the healthcare sector.