In order to predict Amazon’s moves into healthcare, the market should look towards the Chinese online retail giant Alibaba, which already has a well-established healthcare offering, according to GlobalData Financial Services.
Amazon is regarded as an innovative company that has the potential to disrupt any industry it chooses to enter. Its threat derives from its large-scale distribution network and wide consumer reach. The healthcare industry has had a particularly watchful eye on Amazon since it announced a collaboration with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to create a healthcare company to serve its US employees in January 2018.
Amazon’s latest announcement in US healthcare is the purchase of the online PillPack. The start-up packages medication by dose and delivers it directly to patients in addition to vitamins, inhalers, and test supplies. The purchase of PillPack will allow Amazon to enter into retail pharmacy on a large scale, making use of its delivery network.
But this is not the first time an online retailer has entered the healthcare industry. While Amazon’s announcements are new to the European and US markets, Amazon’s business model could be said to be inspired by the Chinese online retail platform giant, Alibaba.
Alibaba’s proposition in health is older and more established than Amazon’s. Its subsidiary, Ali Health, provides a range of health services:
- Medication delivery: Allows customers to purchase medication and health products online.
Doctor network: A network of doctors which customers can select based on their symptoms and communicate with online.
- Health management: Apps and medical devices to help individuals manage their health. Advice and coaching can be customized to individuals’ needs, for instance regarding pregnancy or weight loss. Customers can purchase smart devices to monitor their blood pressure and glucose levels. They will also be recommended relevant health products to buy.
- Health insurance: Online health insurance.
- Product traceability: Provides a service to trace the origin of products including medication.
- Artificial intelligence-assisted diagnosis tools
Alibaba’s model might be the type of offering Amazon seeks to emulate. If the European and US markets want to predict Amazon’s next move in healthcare, they may be best looking towards Asia.
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