By Christina Farr
- Amazon made some bold first steps into health care this year.
- We asked health-care experts to help us figure out where the company is going next.
- Amazon could innovate in a lot of areas from pharmacy to subsidizing healthy food.
Amazon might take its time getting into new industries. But whether it’s online retail, cloud computing or groceries, its vision is typically ambitious .
Now, it’s health care’s turn.
This year, the company made a few early strides in the $3.5 trillion sector. Here are some of the highlights:
- It partnered with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan for an employer health initiative.
- It made its first foray into pharmacy by acquiring the internet pharmacy start-up PillPack in the summer.
- It looked at medical diagnostics, specifically at-home testing.
- It filed a patent for its Alexa voice assistant to pick up on a cold or a cough.
- It started introducing more health products on its marketplace.
- It announced a product to mine patient medical records.
- It started up its own employee health clinic.
Becoming Dr. Amazon
So imagine you have a sore throat. You let Alexa know, and it responds by asking if you want to book an appointment at the doctor’s office or get a virtual consult. You pick the virtual option, and the doctor through Alexa asks you about your symptoms. It decides to send a courier to your home with a tiny portable device to do some basic tests for things like strep throat. The strep test is positive, so the virtual doc sends over a prescription for an antibiotic. (We’re assuming that all the Amazon services are fully compliant with privacy and other laws.)