Amazon acquires One Medical Network

Here’s an update from WSJ:

Amazon to Buy One Medical Network of Health Clinics in Healthcare Expansion – WSJ

The $3.9 billion deal, including debt, for 1Life Healthcare Inc., ONEM 69.45%▲ which operates a primary-care practice under the name One Medical, is the first major acquisition announced during the tenure of Chief Executive Andy Jassy, for whom expansion into healthcare is a top priority.

In another related opinion on WSJ:

Amazon Gives Healthcare Ambitions a Booster Shot – WSJ

In an environment that has become downright hostile to the expansion ambitions of tech giants, the biggest one of all keeps at it. Amazon—due to cross the $500 billion annual revenue mark this year—bought a major Hollywood studio earlier this year and is now going after the doctor’s office. The company said Thursday morning that it has agreed to a cash deal valued at $3.9 billion for 1Life Healthcare, ONEM 69.45%▲ which runs a chain of primary care providers under the name One Medical.

I wasn’t aware Alexa had “Healthcare Skills”, which was HIPAA compliant.

Introducing New Alexa Healthcare Skills : Alexa Blogs

Today, we’re excited to announce that the Alexa Skills Kit now enables select Covered Entities and their Business Associates, subject to the U.S. Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), to build Alexa skills that transmit and receive protected health information as part of an invite-only program. Six new Alexa healthcare skills from industry-leading healthcare providers, payors, pharmacy benefit managers, and digital health coaching companies are now operating in our HIPAA-eligible environment. In the future, we expect to enable additional developers to take advantage of this capability.

This is something similar to Apple’s “HealthKit”, which is basically a SDK to develop applications and expose the OS’s level API’s to interact with the environment. It is true that Amazon wants to step in that territory. But coming back to the physician practise that Amazon just bought.

“We think healthcare is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention,” said Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services. “We see lots of opportunity to both improve the quality of the experience and give people back valuable time in their days.” The deal adds momentum to the push by technology and retail giants to make inroads into the nation’s $4 trillion healthcare economy. That push, along with new technology and medical discoveries, has fueled growth of medical care outside of hospitals and patients now more regularly seek care in more convenient and lower-cost settings. Demand for telehealth during the pandemic increased the use of virtual care.

The warning signs are all over. Back again to the Alex blog and that’s what Amazon has to say:

Developers of the new healthcare skills are excited to enable their customers to access their healthcare services in the comfort of their own homes simply by asking Alexa. These skills are just the first step in making it easier for customers to manage their healthcare needs using just their voice – we’re excited to see what developers build next

It’s previous healthcare push had not been successful.

But Amazon has long had aspirations for the healthcare space. It bought an online pharmacy called PillPack in 2018, and launched an ambitious joint venture with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway that same year to figure out a new system to reduce healthcare costs for their employees. The latter ended up collapsing under its own ambitions; the three companies ended the operation last year.

What will Amazon do differently this time? Primary care is the stepping stone. Maybe, they might run some studies on EMR hosted on AWS and utilising Alexa (voice assistant) for voice analysis, and tie the whole “experience” together. Amazon has enough heft to push for lobbying and influencing regulation in this space. They are attacking all ends-it’s previous foray in “cancer-research” needs to be seen in the same light.

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