It seems as though tech giant Amazon is preparing to enter the pharmaceutical marketplace — here’s what you need to know.
Since its humble beginnings as an online bookstore in the mid-90s, Amazon has completely transformed the way consumers shop, interact with digital media, and fundamentally think about the internet. It seems that the tech giant now has its sights set on a new target: healthcare and pharmaceuticals.
According to CNBC, Amazon is hiring a new business lead who will be tasked with figuring out how the company can “break into the multibillion dollar pharmacy market.” The company has been toying with the idea for years, but never took the leap. Now, amidst soaring healthcare costs and a growing trend of patients paying for their own medical care, it’s ready to “get more serious” about entering the market.
While several sources indicate that it’s not necessarily a “done deal,” the decision to bring in a new general manager to formulate a strategy, assemble a team, and explore the ins and outs of the industry is pretty compelling evidence.
Moreover, CNBC points out that Amazon recently started selling medical supplies and equipment within the U.S. market, and is “hiring for its professional health care program to ensure that the company is meeting regulatory requirements.”
Back in April, the Japan Times reported that Amazon would be expanding its Prime Now services to include drug and cosmetics sales. The Japanese site now includes a “Pharmaceuticals” section and allows patients to purchase drugs with pre-approval from a licensed pharmacist.
Empowered Patients Demand Seamless Access to Medical Care
Of course, Amazon’s decision to enter the online healthcare market at this particular moment isn’t being made at random — it represents a broader trend of digital disruption and consumer empowerment that’s rocking the medical industry to its core.
The internet now plays an integral role in nearly every aspect of our day-to-day lives and, as a result, consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable relying on it as their primary resource health-related information and services. Amazon is just the latest in a string of tech startups and new platforms that are currently disrupting the traditional healthcare system.
From patient-facing informational resources like Google’s symptom search to affordable, tech-forward treatment options like Forward, as patients take more control over the decision-making process and their healthcare in general, industry outsiders are recognizing gaps within the existing system and swooping into fill them.
Instead of worrying about losing their relevance in an increasingly digital, consumer-controlled marketplace, those within the healthcare system would be better served to start thinking about how they can leverage existing technologies to their advantage.
From digital advertising, good website design, and content marketing on the patient acquisition and education side, to mHealth, telemedicine, and remote patient monitoring for improving access to care, there are plenty of simple ways providers can remain in-step with evolving consumer trends and preferences — they just need to start seizing upon the opportunities at hand.