Amazon's top 5 health moves in 2020 - Insider Intelligence - Business Insider

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Amazon's top 5 health moves in 2020
  • Amazon has been building out its healthcare businesses for several years now—and it made some of its biggest moves this year.
  • We look back on Amazon's top five healthcare moments from the year and how they could continue to develop in 2021.
  • Insider Intelligence publishes hundreds of insights, charts, and forecasts on the Digital Health industry with the Digital Health Briefing. For a limited time, you can try the Briefing for a full week for just $1!

Amazon has been building out its healthcare businesses for several years now—and the tech behemoth made some of its splashiest moves to date across the last year. In this second installment of our Big Tech Countdown, we look back on Amazon's top five healthcare moments from the year—and what these moves could snowball into in 2021.

Amazon's telemedicine unit Amazon Care is a key part of scaling its digital health footprint.

Insider Intelligence

Amazon made inroads into the health monitoring space with the rollout of its Halo fitness tracker—but we're not positive the device will be popular. Debuted in August and made available to the public in December, Halo is Amazon's proprietary wearable that's unique from other fitness trackers for two chief reasons: its voice-enabled feature that detects a user's emotional state and its ability to decipher body fat percentage based on a user's photo. Privacy skeptics may be concerned about passing their health information to Amazon: The tech giant could be using anonymized health data to better train its health algorithms, per a review by The Washington Post.

It expanded its telemedicine unit Amazon Care to a broader range of employees—and plans to scale the service to other companies are in the works. Amazon lengthened the list of employees eligible to use Amazon Care amid the pandemic. And Business Insider Premium reported last week that Amazon had been pitching Amazon Care to outside employers, signaling it wants to link with businesses to provide health services for employees, plans that will likely materialize in 2021.

Amazon launched its own pharmacy unit, imperiling smaller-scale digital pharmacies. Amazon lifted the curtain on an online prescription marketplace and home delivery platform, Amazon Pharmacy, in November, through which it offers online prescription fulfillment and home delivery of medications via the Amazon website or mobile app (with free two-day delivery for Prime members). If Amazon can convince even a fraction of its 118 million US Prime subscribers to ditch their pharmacies for its service, it could be a major disruptive force to the $312 billion pharmacy and drug stores market.

It expanded Alexa's ability to assist in senior home healthcare—a cohort that's warming to virtual tools. With Amazon's smart speaker Care Hub program, caregivers can send alerts to seniors and view their activity feed—giving them a glimpse into how they're faring at home. It's also stocked with an emergency contact feature: When a senior says "Alexa, call for help," it will automatically send a notification to the caregiver. As more seniors eschew nursing facilities and opt to "age in place," tech tools that facilitate remote monitoring for caregivers will become even more necessary.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced a healthcare analytics platform, HealthLake, which holds promise in augmenting interoperability. The HIPAA-eligible platform paves the way for seamless data storage and analysis in the cloud, and it standardizes unstructured clinical data (like clinical notes or imaging info) to bolster accessibility. Amazon HealthLake can match patients to clinical trials and analyze population health trends, for instance. This tool should help Amazon broaden its roster of healthcare partners—from drugmakers to health systems—rushing to harness the power AI and analytics can offer them—especially because investments in cloud this year are likely to increase.

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