Amazon moves deeper into healthcare in 2020: 12 things to know

Healthcare remained a big focus and opportunity for Amazon in 2020 as the tech giant made moves in the virtual care and pharmacy spaces.

There are also indications the company aims to expand its reach in primary care and further support hospitals' data efforts. Here are 12 things to know about Amazon's moves in healthcare over the past year:

1. Amazon partnered with CVS Health and Thermo Fisher Scientific Dec. 22 to promote employer-based COVID-19 testing as part of the national strategy to fight the pandemic.

2. Amazon is rumored to be making plans to expand the Amazon Care program, which launched in September 2019, to other large employers. Amazon Care was initially available to just Amazon employees in Seattle and then expanded to all Amazon employees in Washington state. The program provides telemedicine and in-person primary healthcare services.

3. On Dec. 8, Amazon Web Services launched a new service for healthcare and life sciences organizations that aggregates information into a data lake and automatically normalizes it for machine learning. AWS made its existing COVID-19 data lake available to the public to support hospitals, researchers and public health officials April 8.

4. Amazon launched an online pharmacy Nov. 17 allowing patients to purchase prescriptions online. Patients can manage insurance and prescription information through Amazon Pharmacy and Prime members receive free two-day medication delivery. Amazon also brought on pharmacists to answer patients' questions about medications via phone calls.

5. Throughout 2020, Amazon has been on a hiring spree to meet the needs of customers and clients amid the pandemic. The company also indicated plans to strengthen its healthcare bench by hiring business development leaders to take on projects that could include purchasing provider networks.

6. In October, Amazon Web Services partnered with Carrier Global Corp., a refrigeration and cold chain company, to boost product delivery including medicines and vaccines. The partnership will allow Amazon to deliver temperature-controlled cargo more efficiently.

7. Amazon launched its first wearable device, Halo, Aug. 27 on an invitation-only basis and then expanded it to the general public in December. Halo integrates with Cerner EHR solutions, and San Diego-based Sharp Healthcare was the first health system to participate in the collaboration.

8. Amazon inked a partnership with Crossover Health, a primary care clinic chain, to pilot health clinics for employees in July. The facilities can accommodate virtual or in-person visits. The initial agreement set the wheels in motion to develop 20 employee health centers in five cities.

9. AWS partnered with the Yale School of Public Health in New Haven, Conn., and nonprofit consortium Volunteer Surge to recruit and train 1 million healthcare workers online before sending them to aid in COVID-19 care.

10. Amazon joined a group of 17 large health systems and big tech companies March 24 to form the COVID-19 Healthcare Coalition to coordinate pandemic response efforts using data analytics.

11. Amazon was working on a secret project to develop a vaccine for the common cold in March, CNBC reported. The initiative was part of a project called Grand Challenge, which includes 100 team members.

12. In January, Amazon hired high-profile public health expert and pulmonary medicine physician Vin Gupta, MD, to support Amazon Care.


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