Amazon is adding a new rung on its vertical integration ladder, as CNBC reports a secret skunkworks lab is focusing on the future of health care. The covert team, named 1492 by the company, is exploring topics such as telemedicine, electronic medical records and health apps for Amazon’s various in-home devices.
Two people familiar with the situation told CNBC that the Seattle-based team is concentrating on both hardware and software. This adds another piece to Amazon’s health care push, as it already has another unit focusing on pharmaceutical sales.
The company’s cloud-computing division Amazon Web Services has also looked to beef up its healthcare staff, as it aims to capture contracts from large hospitals ahead of Google and Microsoft.
The potential avenues for 1492 are numerous. Currently, the team is working on pushing and pulling data from legacy electronic medal record systems (LEMRS). Being able to quickly and effectively use data from LEMRS would potentially make doctors’ and patients’ lives much easier, and the value to consumers could be high.
Additionally, the team is looking into a telemedicine platform, with the hope that it could foster virtual consultations with medical professionals. 1492 is also attempting to incorporate new healthtech with Amazon’s existing devices such as Echo and Dash Wand.
Various health professionals have already explored the possibility of developing skills for Alexa, Amazon’s voice-activated assistant, according to CNBC.
The team and its job openings have been kept under wraps since its inception. Online job posts are advertised with vague terminology; one ad asked for a UX Design Manager for its “new vertical,” CNBC reports. Generally, the posts have been listed under the keyword “a1.492,” or under the pseudonym “The Amazon Grand Challenge a.k.a. ‘Special Projects’ team.”
Once again, Amazon seems to have found an incredibly fertile marketplace to set up shop. Former White House chief technology officer Aneesh Chopra told CNBC that "anyone who aspires to help consumers navigate our health system and is digitally capable should find the market conditions ripe for entry."
Google’s Google Health, Microsoft’s HealthVault and Apple’s health unit are yet to make concrete progress in the $3 trillion sector.
Photo: Getty iStock