“Alexa, Call My Doctor”: Amazon Focusing on Health

What if you could order up a virtual doctor’s visit or fill a prescription as easily as you could purchase a new pair of shoes or a bottle of laundry detergent: on Amazon? According to recent reports, the company’s top-secret health care lab, dubbed “1492,” is working to make those scenarios a reality for consumers. As CNBC first reported, Amazon is currently “focused on both hardware and software projects” in the health care space. Among their main areas of focus: electronic health records (EHRs) and telemedicine.

Per CNBC’s Eugene Kim and Christina Farr, 1492 “is currently looking at opportunities that involve pushing and pulling data from legacy electronic medical record systems.” Eventually, “Amazon could make that information available to consumers and their doctors.” A telehealth platform may also be in the works, along with the potential addition of pharmaceutical sales. CNBC notes that the company has been keeping 1492 carefully under wraps, and refused to comment on this week’s story. Regardless, health IT industry experts are optimistic about the company’s prospects in the health arena—or that of anyone else seeking to get into the market. As former Obama administration White House Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra told CNBC, “Anyone who aspires to help consumers navigate our health system and is digitally capable should find the market conditions ripe for entry.”

Aside from 1492 and their Amazon Web Services cloud operation, Amazon has already sought to encourage developers to lend their talents to developing new health-related skills for its signature Alexa device. Earlier this year, for example, the company and Merck announced the Alexa Diabetes Challenge, with $125,000 to be awarded to the developer who creates the best “Alexa voice-enabled solution” for diabetes management. “It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and isolated on the path to self-management, especially for people who are newly diagnosed,” the two companies explained in announcing the challenge. “Amazon Alexa has the potential to be a new partner for this journey.” Currently, the competition is in its “virtual accelerator” phase, with winners to be announced later this year.

Click here to read the article from CNBC on Amazon 1492. 


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