Healthcare leaders are competing against a global brand universally considered the gold standard for customer-centricity. Here are a few pages to borrow from the Amazon playbook.
We asked members of our Healthcare Insight advisory board how peers can prepare for Amazon’s entry into health care—arguably the biggest disruption the industry has ever experienced. This guide features insights from the following healthcare strategy and marketing leaders:
The Amazon Effect
Any discussion of disruption in health care has to include Amazon. In its Global Healthcare Private Equity and Corporate M&A Report 2018, Bain & Company identified “The Amazon Effect” as one of five disrupters in health care based on the company’s ongoing evolution of the retail market and domination of online sales.
Having successfully shaken up the markets for books, newspapers, groceries and brick-and-mortar retail, analysts from MKM Partners said Amazon is essentially “eating the retail world.”
So what are Amazon’s plans for health care? The signals are becoming clear based on its healthcare projects underway:
- The Amazon business group is looking to sell medical supplies to hospitals and clinics.
- Amazon’s cloud team is selling artificial intelligence (AI) and other advanced technologies to healthcare companies. For example, it has a wellness team within its Alexa division that is focusing on developing voice applications for health care. One of the Alexa applications, according to a patent filed in October, involves detecting the physical or emotional well-being of users based on voice interactions (imagine Alexa suggesting a recipe for chicken soup or offering to have cough drops delivered after a voice command is interrupted by coughs and sneezes).
- The Amazon research and development group, dubbed Grand Challenges, is working on everything from medical records to telemedicine.
- In June, the company acquired the online pharmacy PillPack.
Two additional initiatives have healthcare leaders raising eyebrows—and reading the writing on hospital walls:
Employee clinics—Experts suggest Amazon could be using local clinics to create a prototype before expanding them outside its employee base. Amazon has a history of testing new ideas with its own workers before scaling them out, and its partnership with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway is in part designed to manage the health of a combined workforce of 1.2 million people.
Hiring clinical talent—Amazon currently has a number of different teams working on health care and has been on a healthcare hiring spree, bringing on experts including renowned cardiologist Maulik Majmudar, M.D., along with primary care expert Martin Levine, M.D., and former FDA chief health information officer Taha Kass-Hout, M.D.
A Game plan for Facing the Giant
When evaluating the elements that have made Amazon successful, five stand out as creating the standard for innovation and growth:
- Connecting the Dots
"What Healthcare Marketers Can Learn from Amazon" illustrates how these five pillars drive performance, and how healthcare organizations can address the challenges of competing with Amazon and other nontraditional providers.
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