Healthcare News & Insights

How will Amazon’s healthcare ventures affect you? 5 possibilities

Amazon’s moves into the healthcare sector made waves in 2018, and there’s no telling what the company will do next or how it may shape the market. Being prepared for some major changes down the line can keep your hospital from getting caught in the riptide. 

Earlier this year, Amazon partnered with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to create a nonprofit to address health care for their U.S. employees, although NPR says there are limited details about what this nonprofit will actually do.

Last month, Amazon also announced it’ll offer Medicaid beneficiaries discounted Prime memberships, according to the New York Times.

Where will Amazon will go from here? Knowing Amazon’s resources and impact in the world, many are predicting serious upheaval in the healthcare industry.

Amazon’s expansion

To that end, global management consulting firm L.E.K. Consulting released a report detailing five points of entry Amazon could use to expand its reach in health care, which are:

  1. Durable medical equipment and supplies. Amazon already sells general medical supplies on its website, so it’s likely the company will branch out and begin supplying durable medical equipment to hospitals and practices. In fact, Amazon already has licenses to distribute medical supplies in 43 states.
  2. Mail order and retail pharmacy. Since Amazon now owns Whole Foods, it’s feasible the company might begin phasing in pharmacies to its brick-and-mortar locations. Amazon also has extensive predictive analytic tools, which would give it a leg up on understanding patient behavior and encouraging patients to change it, particularly when looking at medication adherence.
  3. Pharmacy benefits. The report predicts Amazon will partner with an existing pharmacy benefit manager like Express Scripts (which was just purchased by Cigna) to build a pharmacy network and drive prices down.
  4. Telemedicine and/or in-home healthcare. You probably know the name Alexa, and she could be the future of scheduling doctor or hospital visits. Amazon’s voice-controlled personal assistant, combined with the Echo speaker system, may make it easier to meet with providers. Plus, the Echo has video capability, which could allow for in-home virtual visits down the road.
  5. Artificial intelligence-powered diagnostics. Amazon has all but cornered the market on artificial intelligence and may eventually use its power to diagnose conditions. Right now, Alexa can offer first-aid and self-care info, and those options will only increase as the technology advances.

Preparing for change

All of these possibilities are in the future, but they may be coming sooner than you think.

To start getting ready, look for ways your organization can use artificial intelligence and predictive analytics to get a jumpstart on Amazon’s offerings, and work on streamlining your hospital’s care processes to compete with the ease of using Amazon devices and services. Keep abreast of up-and-coming technologies and be willing to embrace flexibility.

And finally, stay calm. Even if Amazon completely changes how the healthcare industry works, there will be opportunities to adapt and grow as a hospital – as long as you’re able to take advantage of them.

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