Jul 27, 2017 - Technology

Amazon's burgeoning push into health care

Ted S. Warren / AP

Amazon has a secret team working on ways to move the e-commerce giant into the health care industry, CNBC reports. Aside from its plan to start distributing prescription drugs, which CNBC previously reported, Amazon also is looking into analyzing electronic health record data and creating a platform for virtual doctor visits.

Why it matters: Established health care companies are nervous about Amazon becoming a bigger player in health care because it likely would siphon away some of their business and, presumably, strip out inefficiencies. But Amazon and other tech companies face a lot of hurdles getting into health care — in this case, regulations around patient data, privacy and handling medications.

What we're hearing: Jamie Stockton, an analyst at Wells Fargo, wrote in a note to investors that prescription drugs appear to be the link tying all of these ideas together. An Amazon e-pharmacy would work closely with telehealth, because roughly 90% of telehealth visits lead to doctors writing a prescription, Stockton said. Having access to medical data would keep patients, doctors and the e-pharmacy on the same page.

Reminders: Amazon has registered some .health domain names, and it already sells some medical supplies. Athenahealth, a vendor that sells cloud-based electronic health records and billing software to doctors and small hospitals, also is in close discussions with an activist investor that took a large stake and has a history of selling companies.

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