Amazon is currently developing services for consumers and healthcare providers, but is facing competing solutions from Google, Microsoft and Walmart.
The Amazon Alexa voice assistant is used not only by ordinary users: the technologies underlying it are also used in professional fields. There is a similar solution for healthcare professionals: a voice assistant helps doctors perform surgeries and other procedures step by step. Thanks to him, the doctor knows what stages the operation went through – everything is recorded in the medical history. The solution works on the cloud platform Amazon Web Services (AWS), 8 hospitals were connected to the pilot project
Another option for using the intelligent voice assistant is to work directly with the patient. The system records the conversation between the patient and the doctor, analyzes what was said and adds all the valuable information to the medical history. Doctors confirm that this turns out to be much more effective than writing down the patient’s words by hand.
These solutions are just a small fraction of the initiatives that Amazon plans to roll out in the healthcare sector. First of all, we are talking about the online trade of drugs and telemedicine programs. The company is also seriously counting on the potential of AWS cloud services – even a specialized OS is being prepared with support for artificial intelligence algorithms that can predict when a person may get sick.
Amazon, long considered a sleeping giant in the healthcare sector, has now begun to actively develop in this direction, striking a wide target audience: both consumers who are tired of high prices and medical institutions that need to automate their work are interested in services. Direct competitors have their own solutions: Google and Microsoft offer cloud technologies based on artificial intelligence. Walmart has opened several healthcare facilities.
The cost of medical services in the United States is constantly increasing. According to experts, health spending in 2021 in the country will reach $ 4.2 trillion, by 2025 this figure may reach $ 5 trillion. Most of the costs are borne by employers, 87% of whom will not be able to pay for these services in 5-10 years, according to their own estimates.
At the same time, new trends are actively developing. Health tracking devices are being used more and more. And low-cost connectivity has made remote healthcare not only affordable, but a preferred option for some people. Artificial intelligence and big data processing are opening up new avenues for treatment and care. Tech companies have emerged as leaders in these technologies and have begun to invest heavily in healthcare. In 2020, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Google and Apple invested $ 3.7 billion in this area, and this year, according to CB Insights, this figure has grown by another $ 3.1 billion.
At the same time, Amazon pursues a slightly different policy, trying to provide a full cycle on its own and using all available resources to solve the problem, including logistics – to do the same in healthcare that was previously done for online shopping. Initially, however, the company failed in 2018 when the Haven project was launched in partnership with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway. The initiative was greeted warmly and the shares of rival healthcare companies fell. However, the project was not implemented properly and had to be closed in early 2021. The financial resources and credibility of the three players were not enough for numerous partners from the healthcare industry to lower their prices. However, Amazon realized that the company is able to implement projects on its own – it can reduce the cost of medical care, at least for its employees. In partnership with California-based Crossover Health, Amazon employees, their spouses and children were given access to a network of health centers. So far, the initiative is working in only 5 states, but their number will be expanded.
And in July of this year, Amazon Dx was launched, offering home testing for COVID-19 – the results are provided within 24 hours. In the future, the service will be expanded, testing is planned for other diseases. And in March, it announced the launch of Amazon Care’s telemedicine service for companies across the United States. As part of the service, you can get a remote consultation from a doctor or nurse at any time of the day. The project was tentatively launched in 2019 for Amazon employees in Seattle. The service is now operated by a third-party contractor, Care Medical. Several American companies have already agreed to use the services of the Amazon Care project; negotiations with insurers were held in July.
While AWS is a big advantage for Amazon, competitors are also moving forward. Microsoft and Google have more clients in healthcare programs today. However, there is no problem with this, experts say: the whole point is that Amazon just started later. The company launched AWS for Health, a suite of services for healthcare organizations. In addition, Amazon is actively working with startups as part of its own business incubator program – 10 new projects will be announced in the near future. For example, the Texas-based company Pieces offers AI algorithms that can predict a patient’s condition. Gyant has developed a chatbot that will reduce the workload of medical call center employees. And the startup Giblib shoots video and virtual reality models for medical workers.