Amazon’s Stealthy Foray Into the World of EHR

Stealth, secrecy, cool code names. These are all things you would find in a Bourne movie – and they’re also things that you would find when in Amazon’s quiet, exploration into the EHR market.

“Amazon has started a secret skunkworks lab dedicated to opportunities in healthcare, including new areas such as electronic medical records and telemedicine,” CNBC recently discovered. “Amazon has dubbed this stealth team 1492.”

This is not Amazon’s first foray into the healthcare industry. For years now, Amazon “has held at least one annual meeting at its Seattle headquarters to discuss whether it should enter the pharmacy business.” It’s gotten more serious when they recently hired a dedicated business lead to explore avenues into the market.

One of those avenues might center around health data. According the CNBC, Amazon “is currently looking at opportunities that involve pushing and pulling data from legacy electronic medical record systems”. Their goal is to obtain the information and make it accessible to doctors and consumers.

They’re also trying to build a telemedicine platform, which would provide video medical consultation for remote or non-mobile patients.

And like many other tech giants, Amazon is reported to be exploring health applications that can be added to Echo and Dash Wand.

According to CNBC, before July 26th, Amazon was listing several openings“for its ‘stealth’ operation, which were searchable on the jobs site under the keyword ‘a1.492.’ … The unit also had ads posted for a UX Design Manager for its “new vertical,” as well as a machine learning director with experience in healthcare IT and analytics and a knowledge of electronic medical records.”

However, (and interestingly enough) since July 27, Amazon has scrubbed any references to a1.492 from their job and LinkedIn sites, and have refused to comment on the matter. Amazon Web Services recently hired health experts in a bid to get contracts with hospitals and pharmaceutical vendors. They’ve also invested in a health startup.

Amazon is quietly but quickly making inroads into the market. Amazon’s end goals are not quite clear. Are they trying to take up a small part of the industry, or is their end goal to drive out businesses and take it over? Their insistence on seemingly covering up their interlude into the industry is telling.

For consumers, this might be a positive. Amazon is a brand that has recognition. It is a brand that has already earned the consumers trust when it comes to finances and personal shopping histories. Handing over medical history would not be a huge leap.

However, what is clear to all other EHR providers is that if Amazon is entering the market, they should beware. Amazon is a big tech company whose level of funding and resources can’t be touched, but the odds that they will develop yet another ‘out-of-the-box’ solution is high. For such a big company, they will need to create an EHR that makes business sense at an enterprise scale.

All of this comes to say that EHR providers will need to up their game – the market doesn’t necessarily need another standard solution and the demand for customized health solutions will likely increase.

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