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Amazon seems to be targeting health care next

by Thomas Dworetzky, Contributing Reporter | July 31, 2017
Health IT
Columbus discovered the Americas in 1492 – and it looks like 1492 may also be the key to Amazon's big push into the health care space.

The Goliath “has started a secret skunkworks lab dedicated to opportunities in health care, including new areas such as electronic medical records and telemedicine” and dubbed it 1492, CNBC has reported.

The Seattle-based team is eyeing both software and hardware, unnamed sources with knowledge of the project told the business news channel.

And why not? Amazon is moving into a variety of new business spaces – its Whole Foods buy puts it squarely into the retail grocery space and would provide an easy way to segue into pharmacies.

And in May CNBC reported that the retail giant had groups looking at selling pharmaceuticals.

Hospitals and doctors have already been looking at ways to use Alexa, as well, for things such as record keeping and transcription.

"There are some massive voice applications that will be built for health enterprises," John Brownstein, chief innovation officer at Boston Children's Hospital, told CNBC in June.

In fact, Boston Children's Hospital has even launched an Alexa app called KidsMD, that lets users “seek information on medication dosing or common symptoms by interacting with Alexa and providing basic information about themselves. The person's details are never stored. It is powered by Thermia.io, a Boston Children's Hospital research product,” according to the app's description on the Amazon site.

Ceders Sinai in Los Angeles is also looking at Alexa.

"We are fascinated with it," said its CIO Darren Dworkin, noting that, "we need a killer app before it gets mainstream, but I don't know what that will be yet."

The 1492 effort appears to be examining interfacing with legacy EHR systems to get and store data. If it works, the online retailer could let patients and doctors access that data.

CNBC also reported that Amazon was looking into developing telemedicine platforms, as well as investigating apps for the company's hardware, like Echo.

In July, according to the news site, the company had advertised for employees for the operations that were possible to locate with the keyword "a1.492."

But all mention of a1.492 are now gone from the company job board.

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