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Amazon Is Not Alone in the Hunt for Disrupting Healthcare

May 16, 2018
Posted by: Gerald “Pharmacist Jerry” Finken, RPh, MS Contributor, Meghan Robbins

Amazon Is Not Alone in the Hunt for Disrupting HealthcarePhoto credit: GlobalMed

In America, the healthcare news is all about Amazon. It’s expected to take the healthcare realm by storm because of its involvement in pharmacy and insurance businesses. However, if you look across the globe in China, a technology giant, known as Alibaba, has already accomplished what Amazon is trying to do. The battle is on, but who will win?

In a recent article, Ed Rowland is putting his money on Alibaba. He notes that although both companies have similar visions – they are all about the customer – Alibaba continues to beat Amazon at its own game. Since 2015 Alibaba’s income has soared over Walmart, Amazon and eBay combined and has also accrued more revenue than Amazon.

In addition, Alibaba has a lead on Amazon in healthcare. One reason for this is that they have immersed themselves and are excelling in the world of Artificial Intelligence (AI). For example: Chinese doctors are overworked due to a 1.5:1,000 doctor to patient ratio. Alibaba used AI to help remedy this problem in the Chinese healthcare system. They saw a problem and figured out how to fix it and make money at the same time.

Amazon is trying to now follow Alibaba’s lead and is starting to dabble in this world as well. But does Amazon have the same drive? And is “doctor” AI enough to create successful healthcare disruption?

I’d say – depends on how wide the net is cast. In order for any company to be successful in electronic medicine, they must understand what is working and what is not working.  If Amazon wants to beat Alibaba and disrupt healthcare, I believe they need to understand the crucial role of the pharmacist and the impact they can have on healthcare and put “pharmacist” AI first. Let’s get beyond the “white coat/authority figure” mentality which is not customer, or in this case, patient focused.  AI must be used to support healthcare professionals, but the real impact will be AI that supports the work of the pharmacist and the pharmacies of the future. This in addition to other internet-based support, like direct-to-patient medication, will go a long way in disrupting healthcare for the better and usher in a new dawn.

What do you think?

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