10 updates on Amazon's healthcare push

Unconventional healthcare players, including Amazon, Best Buy and Walmart, have made strides in 2019 to enter the market. 

Amazon has made waves in recent months with different health ventures, including partnering with an EHR vendor and testing its health plan in a few states, that show the online retail giants potential influence in the market. 

Below are 10 updates on Amazon's healthcare push in recent months: 

1. Most recently, Amazon Web Services announced that it will be launching a voice transcription service for physicians, dubbed Amazon Transcribe Medical. The technology transcribes a patient visit and then inputs the text directly into patients' medical records.

2. Although Amazon acquired PillPack in 2018, it wasn't until November that Amazon rebranded the internet pharmacy to included "Amazon Pharmacy" in its logo. The move to rebrand may be an indication that Amazon plans to expand its pharmacy ventures. 

3. Another pharmacy venture Amazon has embarked on is it's partnership with Pittsburgh-based Giant Eagle, a supermarket and pharmacy chain. Customers with active prescriptions and an Alexa-enabled device can access medication management. 

4. Amazon's healthcare venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, Haven, has also made progress in 2019. Amazon specifically is testing the health plan on employees in Connecticut, North Carolina, Utah and Wisconsin. 

5. In an effort to control healthcare spending, Amazon decided to cover the travel expenses for employees diagnosed with cancer who visit Duarte, Calif.-based City of Hope. Along with lowering healthcare spending, the move is designed to increase employees' choice. More than 380,000 employees are eligible for the benefit. 

6. In September, Amazon launched a primary care program for its employees in Seattle that centers around virtual care. Dubbed Amazon Care, the telemedicine service officers in-app visits for employees seeking medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or referrals. 

7. Amazon branded the virtual care app as a "first stop for healthcare." After chatting with a physician either through messenger or video chat, a provider can be dispatched to a patient if necessary. The app shows the patient the provider's location and estimated time of arrival. It's unclear if the retail and tech giant will roll out the services to employees at its fulfillment centers. 

8. To power the primary care program, Amazon acquired Health Navigator, a startup that provides technology and services to digital health companies. 

9. Due to the persistent headaches clinicians have about EHRs, Cerner teamed up with AWS to increase the EHR vendor's analytics and machine learning services. Cerner hopes the enhanced AI and machine learning abilities will enhance clinicians' use of the EHR, lower operational burdens for health systems and improve patient health outcomes. 

10. Amazon has also made moves to partner with health systems. In August, AWS announced that it is collaborating with the Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance in a machine learning research sponsorship to advance innovation in cancer diagnostics precision medicine, voice-enabled technologies and medical imaging. 

More articles on consumerism:
CVS Health CEO outlines plans for expansion
UNC Health Care deploys patient navigation mobile app
Ford discontinues medical transportation service to focus on self-driving tech

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