In CB Insight’s Healthcare 2025 research briefing released on Wednesday, Amazon came in second place behind Google as the tech giant most likely to have the biggest impact on healthcare.
In June, Amazon announced a joint healthcare venture with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway, one they tapped Dr. Atul Gawande to run. A week later, Amazon acquired digital pharmacy startup PillPack for a reported $1 billion.
CB Insights highlighted several areas in which Amazon could have an advantage.
For one, Amazon has an unprecedented reach and an established customer base. The company has direct distribution to over 300 million active customers and 100 million Prime Members. But Amazon also offers some unique assets already in place that only require some modifications to take on the task of healthcare.
Alexa can potentially help patients manage home care, especially for Medicaid and Medicare members. Amazon’s Echo, a voice-controlled speaker with video capabilities, can monitor activity at home. If it becomes HIPAA compliant, it can also handle medically relevant data about the patient that can be used to monitor adherence to treatment and medications. Additionally, Amazon could monitor blood flow and heart rate through the camera of the Echo, and could also add functions to detect falls in the home, assess gait, send help in emergencies, answer medical inquires, and connect patients with caregivers.
The Echo could serve as the vessel to deliver telemedicine, digital therapeutics, therapy and lifestyle coaching straight to the patient in the home environment. Amazon is already looking to expand Alexa’s healthcare applications, CNBC reported in May.
Amazon could also leverage its robust delivery service to deliver disease-specific meal plans to patients in locations where access to fresh produce may be limited. Currently, Amazon offers Medicaid beneficiaries a discounted Prime membership, which doesn’t yet extend to Amazon Fresh or Prime Pantry discounts.
Amazon could also potentially establish a physical healthcare presence through the recently acquired retail chain, Whole Foods. The retail chain could add on to its stores a pharmacy or even a clinic as a quick way for Amazon to increase healthcare accessibility to patients, especially in high density Medicare and Medicaid areas.