Two health systems are reportedly working with Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) and a startup called Xealth, with plans to launch a pilot program that could ease patients’ transition between hospital and home.
“The idea behind the pilot, which is still under review and is slated to start in a matter of months, is to provide patients discounted easy access to the medical supplies and other goods they need via Amazon Prime,” wrote CNBC’s Christina Farr, who first reported the story last week. “Those who do not have a Prime membership or do not want to use Amazon would still be able to access the pilot via other e-commerce providers.”
The pilot would involve Seattle-based Providence Health Systems and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC). Both have invested in a startup called Xealth, which has specialized in making digital tools and resources available to patients, supporting health system efforts to monitor and manage care.
Xealth would spearhead this new pilot, with Amazon providing guidance on setting up the bundles of goods and the reseller accounts, Farr reported, citing unnamed sources familiar with the effort.
Providence and Xealth declined to comment to Home Health Care News. Amazon and UPMC had not replied to requests for comment as of press time.
There are 15 Providence home health agencies offering services in Alaska, California, Oregon and Washington, according to the organization’s website. UPMC conducted more than 700,000 home care visits in 2017, according to its website.
To illustrate how the system might work, the CNBC article used the example of a knee-replacement patient. After surgery, that patient could go onto his or her personal page on the hospital’s website and find online care instructions, as well as a basket of recommended products such as bandages or braces. With a click of a button, the patient could have the bundle delivered that very day to their home.
Patients with chronic needs are especially attractive given that they frequently need medical products, Farr noted. Eventually, medications might be included in the bundles of recommended products and delivered via Amazon, which acquired web-based pharmacy PillPack in June.
Home health and private duty home care providers have been keeping close tabs on Amazon’s moves.
On the one hand, the Seattle-based e-commerce giant has been playing an increasingly significant role in supporting aging-in-place.
Seniors and home care providers have turned to Echo voice-recognition devices to help coordinate transportation, monitor health indicators and provide companionship. Amazon and AARP have been in talks to collaborate on other senior-focused technologies. The Amazon Business platform is being used by home health providers with the goal of having a more streamlined supply chain. And Amazon’s joint health care venture with JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) and Berkshire Hathaway (NYSE: BRK.A) is aiming to reduce unwanted interventions at the end of life.
At the same time, home care providers have seen Amazon as a potential threat, if its technology reduces the need for in-person caregivers or if it otherwise disrupts the industry.
Written by Tim Mullaney