Nearly everyone knows Amazon, the successful international e-commerce website for consumers and sellers, founded in 1994. The “Amazon effect” affects multiple industries, including health care.
What exactly is the “Amazon effect”? It’s a term used to describe Amazon.com’s success. The meaning can vary depending on the industry, but it generally refers to the difficulty many companies face when they compete with Amazon. ”By mid-2018, Amazon was already responsible for roughly 50 percent of the nation’s e-commerce sales and 5 percent of all combined offline and online sales. And Amazon doesn’t have an impact on e-commerce providers alone.“
One of the significant streams of expansion it developed has been artificial intelligence and its application, machine learning. You probably know Alexa, Amazon’s popular speaker, or its Amazon Web Services division that provides AI cloud computing for paying customers. In 2019, we can expect to see even more AI development at Amazon and other companies.
What does all this mean for health care? Amazon has recently launched a new service called Amazon Comprehend Medical. It uses machine learning “to extract key data from patient records and can potentially help health care providers and researchers save money, make treatment decisions and manage clinical trials. The cloud software combines text analysis and machine learning to read patient records that often consist of prescriptions, notes, audio interviews and test reports.”
But unlike most other industries, health care has certain regulations and restrictions. The upload of private medical information to the cloud for machine-learning analysis rises some concerns about privacy and safety and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance.
According to Amazon, patient data is encrypted. It can only be unlocked when patients have a key. Amazon also states that Comprehend Medical complies with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) to guarantee the security and privacy of protected health information (PHI).
But experts say that health care cybersecurity will continue to be a top concern in 2019, “whether this entails protecting patient privacy, improving health care data security, or preventing ransomware from infecting the endpoints and networks of organizations.”
So next time you have a cold, do you let Alexa know, and it responds by asking if you want to book a doctor’s appointment or get a virtual consult? Probably not soon. But it’s not completely unrealistic that Amazon’s Alexa could become a kind of “concierge” for health care.
However, despite the availability of smart technologies and mobile health apps, it’s still patient engagement and communications between patients and health care providers that improves patient compliance.
Amazon and other companies might take their time getting into health care. But whether it’s online retail, cloud computing or groceries, Amazon’s philosophy is usually “think big.” With companies like Amazon pushing into health care, all providers need to be thinking about how to handle patient-generated data and how to give patients easier access to their own data. Their main consideration should be how patients (especially the millennial generation) want their health care delivered in the future.
Whatever the new year and the future of health care will bring, we at PCG are here to help your organization prepare. Visit us at https://primeauconsultinggroup.com.