CNBC reported last week it had obtained an internal Amazon document that stated the company has introduced a healthcare-focused Alexa division called "health & wellness." The division’s team falls under a group called Alexa Domains and could be seeking to make the virtual assistant healthcare compliant.
The new team is reportedly working on legislation laid out by HIPAA (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) to make Alexa more healthcare compatible and compliant. According to people familiar with the matter, one of the new division’s members and the person in charge of business development and strategy is Missy Krasner, who was key in obtaining HIPAA compliance in her previous role with Box.
The digital health market is a rapidly growing field with an important potential for future revenues. According to Transparency Market Research (TMR), growth in digital health is anticipated to rise at a compound annual growth rate of 13.4% between 2017 to 2025, to reach a staggering $536.6 billion by the end of 2025.
Having the right compliance and legislative structures in place would allow Amazon to tap into this exponentially rising market through healthcare focused Alexa devices and apps. This could be done through systems enabling the sharing of medical data connecting patients and professionals or through the integrations of other healthcare related third-party apps.
So far, CNBC reported that its sources, who have remained anonymous, said Amazon is targeting areas such as “diabetes management, care for mothers and infants and aging.” Last year, the company worked with pharmaceutical company Merck to offer rewards to developers working on Alexa applications that could aid in the management of diabetes.
Amazon has also been spearheading projects for assisting new mothers, cloud-computing targeting the health and pharmaceutical industries and e-commerce for drug distribution. Earlier this year, Amazon, investment bank and financial services company J.P. Morgan and conglomerate holding company Berkshire Hathaway signed a joint initiative to partner in order to address US employee healthcare.
“The healthcare system is complex, and we enter into this challenge open-eyed about the degree of difficulty,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in a press release. “Hard as it might be, reducing healthcare’s burden on the economy while improving outcomes for employees and their families would be worth the effort. Success is going to require talented experts, a beginner’s mind, and a long-term orientation.”
The statement said the aim of the agreement was to improve employee satisfaction with services while simultaneously reducing costs of operation. This objective was set to be pursued through an independent company “free from profit-making incentives and constraints.”
The initial focus of the new company would be on technology solutions that could produce “simplified, high-quality and transparent healthcare at a reasonable cost.” Could Alexa be one of such technologies?