Key acquisition and investments of Amazon in healthcare till date: .
- In 2017, Amazon acquired Whole Foods for $13.7B. Whole Foods Market, headquartered in the US, is the largest natural and organic food supermarket, with more than 460 stores in the US, Canada, and the UK, averaging more than 8M visits a week. It’s the sixth biggest grocery store
- In 2018, Amazon entered a joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway (BH), and JP Morgan Chase to transform health care and reduce costs for 1.2 M employees of all the three companies combined. This alliance was popularly known as ‘Haven’. As per recent news, Haven has been called off by the participating firms due to a lack of coordination in executing projects and will end in February 2021
- In 2018 Amazon acquired mail order pharmacy Pill Pack for ~$1B and marked its entry into the pharmacy space. Through Pill Pack, Amazon got exposure to a $350-400B domestic pharmacy market, and licenses to distribute drugs across 49 US states
- In 2019, Amazon launched the Amazon Care program for its employees. This initiative emerged out of the joint venture between JP, BH, and Amazon
About the initiative:
- Amazon Care’s offering includes both virtual and in-person care, with telemedicine via an app, chat, and remote video, as well as follow–up visits and prescription drug delivery
- The idea behind Amazon care was to handle general physician visits of employees with the ability to handle things like colds, infections, minor injuries, vaccinations, contraceptives, and other related visits
- Amazon is collaborating with Crossover Health to locate convenient health centers in the regions where their fulfilment centers and other facilities are located. The first health center has been opened in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, which is home to more than, Amazonians. Eventually, Amazon is planning to establish 20 health centers in five cities across the US to cater to 115,000 employees and their families
- In 2019, Alexa by Amazon became HIPPA compliant and can now be used to transmit and receive patient health data in US geography. It has six partnerships as follows:
- In collaboration with Cigna, Alexa allows eligible employees to manage their health improvement goals
- In collaboration with Livongo, Alexa allows members to request their last blood sugar readings
- Parents and caregivers can give their care teams updates at Boston Hospital’s ERAS (Enhanced Recovery After Surgery) program with the help of Alexa
- Additionally, in collaboration with Express Scripts, Atrium Health, and Swedish Health connect, Alexa offers updates on prescription delivery and allows for appointment making
- In August 2020, Amazon launched its fitness device and is now well-positioned to track key health indicators of people like BMI, heart rate, fitness level, etc.
- In Nov 2020, Amazon announced its new Amazon Pharmacy program which has been positioned as an alternative to walk-in service provided by brick-and-mortar pharmacies like CVs and Walgreens. Under the program, customers can input insurance information, manage prescriptions and choose payment options
- Amazon Pharmacy on Amazon.com allows customers to order prescription medications for home delivery
- Pill Pack by Amazon pharmacy is part of Amazon Pharmacy and remains a distinct service for customers managing multiple daily medications for chronic conditions
Potential Plays for Amazon in healthcare: (Apart from Haven which has recently been called off)
1. Wholesale and retail pharmacies:
Amazon Already has mail-order pharmacy license because of its Pill Pack acquisition and Amazon Pharmacy initiative. As per news reports, Amazon has already filed for a wholesale pharmacy license. Combining the might of wholesale and mail-order licenses, and with the possible presence of brick-and-mortar Amazon pharmacies within the stores of Whole Foods in the future, Amazon can have an omnichannel presence in the pharmacy space and very good coverage for the US geography.
2. Alexa as voice assistant:
Presently, Alexa is HIPPA compliant and it is already involved in few key steps in providing healthcare-related services to patients as mentioned before. The next possible expansion step for Alexa is to be present at the clinics and help the physicians to access, transmit and retrieve medical information of patients, as well as record the interactions at the clinics for future reference.
To complement the above usage, Amazon has also launched its fitness tracker bandwhich will provide it with data on key findings parameters of the users. This data can be further plugged in for predictive analytics in identifying the population at high risk for illnesses.
3. Retail Clinics
As mentioned before, Amazon is running a pilot program called Amazon care to provide healthcare services to its employees and families.Also, Amazon has hired Martin Levine, former medical director for Lora health in Seattle with expertise in creating clinics and primary care services specifically for Medicare Beneficiaries.
Combining the above two facts, it is evident that Amazon is closely watching its Amazon care initiative for feedback and will use the learnings to tweak the service offering before expanding its reach to Medicare and Medicaid patients by opening retail clinics in Whole Foods locations and Amazon fulfilments centers