15 things to know about Amazon's healthcare strategy heading into 2020

Over the past year, Amazon has made several big partnerships and investments in the healthcare space, which will likely continue into the new decade.

Here are 15 things to know about Amazon's push into healthcare during 2019 and where they're headed in 2020.

1. Amazon is among the tech giants making the biggest impact on healthcare, and coupled with its vast number of users and sellers, it can be a fertile testing ground for future healthcare applications, according to CBInsights. The company has around 1.2 million employees in Haven, the Amazon-JPMorgan, Berkshire Hathaway partnership. It also has an estimated 5 million sellers and 310 million active users, including 100 million Amazon Prime members.

2. Haven has been relatively quiet in since launching its website on March 6, 2019. JPMorgan Chase Chairman and CEO Jamie Dimon revealed that the company has hired 50 people to begin problem solving, but that their strategy was a "long term effort," according to Geek Wire. He also reported the company aims to use the cloud and artificial intelligence to improve healthcare.

3. In March, Amazon made a $2 million investment in Boston-based Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to test artificial intelligence tools. The two have partnered since 2016 when Beth Israel bought AWS's cloud software and reported significant improvements with operating efficiency.

4. Amazon's Alexa became HIPAA compliant in 2019, according to an April 4 Amazon blog post. The company launched software for its voice assistant technology designed to transmit and receive protected health information. The company partnered with Providence in Renton, Wash.; Boston Children's Hospital; and Atrium Health in Charlotte, N.C., as well as Livongo, Express Scripts and Cigna as part of the exclusive program.

5. Amazon Prime users began to receive email marketing about PillPack, an online pharmacy service Amazon acquired in 2018, in April. Then, it was revealed in December that Amazon is attempting to convince more big name insurers to integrate its pharmacy services into their health benefit plans. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is already in line for integration.

6. Amazon's partnership with the National Health Service in the United Kingdom was put under a microscope in 2019. In July, NHS Health Secretary Matt Hancock outlined the benefits of the partnership, saying Amazon Alexa devices could offer health advice to consumers. However, in December it was revealed that Amazon was able to collect health information to develop, advertise and sell its own products as part of the collaboration. The company cannot collect patient information.

7. Cerner partnered with AWS in July, making AWS its preferred cloud provider. Cerner hopes to enhance clinician use of the EHR, lower operational burden for health systems and help improve patient outcomes through the partnership. During its Oct. 24 earnings call, CEO Brent Shafer said Cerner clients can expect to see continued advancement to the overall user experience and financial operations as a result of the partnership, and Cerner plans to continue to move to the AWS platform.

8. The Pittsburgh Health Data Alliance launched a collaboration with AWS to advance innovation in cancer diagnosis, precision medicine, voice-enabled technologies and medical imaging in August. UPMC, University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University developed the alliance to transform disease treatment using data. The alliance is using the AWS Machine Learning Research program to boost commercialization for eight projects.

9. Amazon launched its healthcare program, Amazon Care, for employees in Seattle on Sept. 24. The program offers virtual health clinics and in-home follow-up visits. The Virtual services include in-app visits with physicians, nurse practitioners or nurses.

10. In October, Amazon announced it would send employees to California for Cancer Care. The company now pays travel expenses for employees diagnosed with cancer to see physicians at Duarte, Calif.-based City of Hope. Amazon hopes to lower healthcare spending.

11. On Oct. 24, Amazon acquired Health Navigator, a startup to provide technology and services to digital health companies, to help power the primary care program it launched the month before. The company is in the process of integrating Health Navigator into Amazon Care.

12. For the third quarter of 2019, Amazon reported its first earnings decline in two years. However, AWS revenue was up 35 percent, hitting $9 billion. The company reported projected net sales to grow between 11 percent and 20 percent on the full year.

13. On Oct. 30, AWS, University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston and Cardinal Health announced a partnership with digital health company Virtusa to use artificial intelligence in medical research. Virtusa's cloud platform is available through AWS' marketplace.

14. On Dec. 2, AWS launched Amazon Transcribe Medical, a voice transcription service for physicians that inputs text directly into medical records. The program is associated with Amazon Comprehend Medical, which allows developers to understand medical text and identify patient information. The transcription service can integrate into device or apps, but it is only available to cloud customers.

15. Amazon Web Services deepened its Next Gen Stats partnership with the NFL in December to advance player health. The partnership plans to use AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning to provide insights into player injuries and how equipment, game rules and rehabilitation strategies can affect player health.


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