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Healthcare Trend Watch—Amazon Disrupting Healthcare at Many Levels

This post is taken from an article by Robin L. Rose, MBA VP, Healthcare Resource Group, HealthStream, where she looks ahead at the coming year, with an eye to big picture trends that could have a significant impact on how we provide and experience care.

Nothing in Healthcare Should Be Taken for Granted

The healthcare industry as we have known it is disappearing. A multitude of factors such as ever increasing prices, growing numbers of seniors, serious provider shortages, and a lack of affordability, even for many with good insurance, are driving change. New technologies, such as artificial intelligence, are slowly infiltrating the industry. Industry disrupters are seeing opportunity amidst the turbulence, and usage and practice patterns are changing dramatically as the industry attempts to move from fee-for-service to value-based care. Although change always takes a bit longer than we think or expect, it is inevitable in this case. When we look back in 10 years, healthcare practice and delivery may be unrecognizable from what we experience today. The following trend exemplifies the transformation that is under way.

Amazon is becoming a major disrupter in many areas of healthcare

The long-standing dysfunction in today’s healthcare industry has made it susceptible for disruption from outside sources who are not tied to the current way of doing things. One good example of this is Amazon’s recent announcement of expansion into the healthcare sector. For years, Amazon has been selling medical supplies and equipment to clinics and hospitals, but the company became significantly more aggressive in their healthcare plans for 2018.

  • In early 2018, Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase formed an independent healthcare company to take on the problem of rising benefit costs and rethink healthcare for their own 1.2 million employees (Wnuk, 2018).
  • In June of 2018 Amazon took another step into the healthcare marketplace with the purchase of the online pharmacy company PillPack. PillPack provides patients in 49 U.S. states with their prescription in simple to use, pre-packaged doses.
  • Amazon has also announced the appointment of nationally known surgeon and author Atul Gawande to head their new healthcare company.
  • Analysts think a logical next step for Amazon is to bring health-focused voice technologies into the home, as well as the hospital and clinic (Farr, 2018). Amazon has partnered with Merck to explore how Alexa can help people with diabetes better manage their condition. Hospitals around the country are experimenting with Alexa for things like helping surgeons create check lists or sharing vital information with patients once they are discharged (Farr, 2018).

As two former Amazon executives recently told CNBC, “There isn’t much that the company [Amazon] would be afraid to do” (Farr, 2018). And healthcare executives agree. In a recent poll by Reaction Data, 59% of healthcare executives agree “Amazon will be the most disruptive tech giant to enter the industry” (Cohen, 2018).

Additional Healthcare Trends to Watch

Other trends identified in this article include:

  • Healthcare costs are becoming scarier than the illness itself.
  • We need to prepare for new health risks.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) is dramatically changing healthcare.
  • We are finally addressing population health.
  • CMS is changing course.
  • We need more joy in the work of healthcare.
  • The nursing shortage is getting worse.
  • Physicians are in short supply too.
  • Digital healthcare organizations are emerging.

References

Cohen, Jessica Kim, “Most hospitals, clinic execs agree Amazon will ‘disrupt’ healthcare more than Apple, Google,” August 20, 2018, https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/healthcare-information-technology/most-hospital-clinic-execs-agree-amazon-will-disrupt-healthcare-more-than-apple-google.html

Farr, Christina, “As Amazon moves deeper into health care with PillPack buy, here’s what we know—and what we suspect—about its plans,” CNBC, June 28, 2018, https://www.cnbc.com/2018/06/28/amazon-health-care-plans-after-pillpack-buy.html

Winuk, Piotr, “Amazon is absolutely serious about disrupting healthcare,” July 4, 2018, https://pharmaphorum.com/news/amazon-is-seri­ous-about-disrupting-healthcare/

Download the complete article here.

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