Amazon's healthcare moves: 7 notes for ASCs and physicians

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Amazon is a big force in healthcare and has made significant changes in the past 12 months that could affect physician practices and ASCs.

The company has launched initiatives to aid the COVID-19 vaccine efforts, make the supply chain more efficient and expand virtual care. Here are seven things to know.

1. Amazon proposed using the company's operations, IT and communications to help the government distribute COVID-19 vaccines. The company's CEO of consumer business, Dave Clark, sent a letter to President Joe Biden offering the company's services. It already teamed up with Seattle-based Virginia Mason to develop a pop-up COVID-19 vaccination site and plans to launch more mass vaccination efforts in the future.

2. Amazon aims to help lower supply spend for ASCs and other healthcare organizations through e-procurement of supplies. ASC administrators are using Amazon to order personal protective equipment in some cases when they run low.

"My normal vendors have [PPE] on allocation, and we have noticed our allocation is not enough to get us through the month. We are searching other sites, including Amazon, to help close the gap," Cindy Young, administrator of Surgery Center of Farmington (Mo.) told Becker's. "We have purchased from Amazon masks for patients to wear and bouffant caps."

3. Amazon is planning to expand its virtual care program, Amazon Care, beyond employees to other large employers. The company launched the program in September 2019 to include a combination of telemedicine and in-person services. The company also has telehealth partnerships with BestBuy and Crossover Health.

4. Amazon Web Services launched a new service for healthcare and life sciences organizations Dec. 8 to aggregate information into a data lake and automatically normalize it for machine learning. The company also has a COVID-19 data lake, which is available to the public.

5. Amazon launched an online pharmacy Nov. 17 for patients to purchase prescriptions. Patients can manage insurance and prescription information through the Amazon Pharmacy and Prime members get free two-day medication delivery.

6. Amazon is searching for a physician to join its worldwide healthcare and life sciences leadership team. The ideal candidate would be a physician with a business or consulting background and someone with a strong understanding of technology.

7. Haven, the healthcare joint venture Amazon founded in 2018 with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, dissolved. The companies do still plan to collaborate informally on healthcare projects.

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