Amazon Positioning Itself to Become a Major Provider of Health Care Services
Amazon has had itself quite the year in 2018. It surpassed the trillion dollar valuation mark, its founder, Jeff Bezos, became the richest man in modern history, and Prime Day broke records, pulling in over $4 billion. While its retail side of the business was certainly thriving, Amazon is looking forward to becoming a major provider of healthcare services within an industry that is valued at around $3 trillion.
This summer, Amazon acquired internet pharmacy startup Pill Pack, a company that delivers your personalized prescriptions to your door. Going forward, it looks like they will be working towards catering to the segment of the market where people pay cash for their medicines. This $450 billion market accounts for an estimated six percent of Americans, including those who do not have insurance or deductible plans. This would mean Amazon would be able to circumvent traditional pharmacy managers, effectively cutting out the middleman, and potentially dropping prices like its rival Walmart has already done.
Amazon also has serious plans for its AI – Alexa. A patent filed by the company shows that it wants Alexa to be capable of noticing a user’s illness by listening to potential coughs or a change in their voice. The patent goes one step further, with Alexa being able to suggest certain medicines, place orders for chicken soup from nearby restaurants, or orders for cough drops with one hour delivery times.
Eventually, Alexa could be used as a conduit for a virtual consultation by a trained physician, where you would describe your symptoms. If a necessary test was needed, it could be arranged to be delivered, and if medication was necessary, Amazon could have the appropriate drugs sent straight to your door through its pharmacy, PillPack. This could make Alexa an effective choice for dealing with basic ailments, preventive care, and potentially even help with people who suffer from chronic medical conditions.
Amazon isn’t stopping there; with its recent purchase of Whole Foods, the company has the potential of making it a lot easier for people to eat healthier. While there haven’t been any concrete steps in this developing healthy eating services, with Whole Foods under its belt, it is uniquely positioned to implement things like healthy meal plan kits, subsidized fresh food delivery, and even specialized ready-to-make recipes for people with specific dietary needs.