The news that Amazon.com had forged an alliance with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan to rethink how healthcare is delivered to their employees has some eyebrows raised. Government efforts to reform the practice of medicine, whether it be Obamacare in the United States or the vaunted single-payer healthcare systems in Canada and Europe, have met with failure and have come with a terrible price. Can one of the tech world’s most successful companies do any better? As CNBC suggests, inquiring minds want to know.
We know that Amazon is already engaged in business-to-business services for supplies and cloud services to healthcare providers, such as hospitals and doctors’ offices. The company is also working on a way to add the functions of a medical assistant to Alexa, providing information and advice to patients as well as helping surgeons with check lists during a procedure.
As for other ways that Amazon might impact healthcare, the rest is speculation but is well within the capabilities of the online retail giant.
Online sales of medicine are nothing new. Amazon can bring to the table price and quality transparency, security for the source of medications, and discounts because of high volume.
Amazon is also keen to transform the experience of healthcare, making it more convenient and affordable. The system is a work in progress, but no one would be surprised if it included distance medicine, including at-home consultations via Skype and wearable and implantable health monitors.
The company is also interested in attacking some of the problems of aging, a pressing concern in western countries. Everything from smart homes designed for seniors to therapies designed to alleviate the problems of aging are certainly being considered.
Finally. Amazon wants to take a look into the problem of medical records and how to access and maintain them more easily. Such a system would help physicians deliver healthcare accurately, effectively, and less expensively.