The recent announcement that Jeff Bezos would be stepping down as the CEO of Amazon has caused some to question what his departure will mean for the future of the company’s foray into healthcare. But Jeff Bezos was never the future of Amazon Health.
Though he was the brains behind the operation’s initial conception, other Amazon employees were heading up the company’s healthcare efforts. A few weeks before Bezos said he was stepping down, it was the head of Amazon’s consumer business, Dave Clark, who reached out to President Joe Biden offering to assist in the widespread Covid-19 vaccination effort. And just days before Bezos broke his news, it was a medical officer at Amazon Health who participated in a seed funding round for HealthTensor, an artificial intelligence startup developing an AI-powered clinical diagnosis software.
Individuals at Amazon – who weren’t necessarily Bezos – have been making systematic investments in healthcare-related businesses for years. And those investments won’t be automatically undone just because a new CEO is stepping in, especially when you consider who that new CEO is, where the industry is headed, and the reason the company has a vested interest in healthcare.
Bezos’ successor is Andy Jassy, the former head of Amazon’s Amazon Web Services (AWS) division. Already, AWS has proven its value with a veritable wealth of successful healthcare use cases, ranging from care coordination and patient engagement to healthcare analytics and clinical data storage.
Coupled with the rise of digital health because of Covid-19, AWS will be a core part of Amazon’s future success. The company seems to know that, too. Five recent AWS job openings are senior positions related to growing investment in the healthcare industry, indicating that the company is actively looking to dive even deeper into that space.
If all this isn’t validation enough, consider what brought Amazon into healthcare in the first place: its acquisition of PillPack. Already capable of delivering virtually every other good to its customers, offering consumers an easy way to get their prescriptions was a logical, albeit complex next step. A mail-order business delivering over-the-counter drugs and devices is one thing, but managing and delivering prescription medications is another.
The further Amazon can expand its reach into care delivery, the more likely it is that Amazon will be able to gain control over an episode of care from initiation to fulfillment. In other words, Amazon could be involved at almost every step along the continuum of care, from a patient visiting their provider, to their provider inputting information into their AWS system and uploading a prescription for PillPack to fill and deliver to the patient. Streamlining care delivery in this way presents a huge opportunity that Amazon is likely already working to bring to fruition.
Indeed, much of healthcare is ripe for disruption like this, and if past performance is any indication, we should expect more involvement from Amazon in the healthcare industry in the coming days; not less. Bezos may be changing his role, but in the same way that telehealth is here to stay, Amazon Health is too.