Amazon has earned a reputation for being an industry disrupter, regardless of which industry it’s focused on at any given time.
It would seem that some in the medical supplies sector are feeling the winds of change blowing as more doctors provide their patients with Amazon shopping lists for items they may need that aren’t covered by insurance.
Xealth, Inc., and the Changing Face of Medicine
It’s been possible to buy medical supplies online for some time now, including medications, provided patients had a prescription from their doctor. Medical supply stores thrive online, even when faced with competition from Amazon medical supplies. However, an app developed by Xealth Inc., threatens to give Amazon a huge leg up in medical supply sales.
Xealth’s app is slowly being adopted by doctors and hospitals across the country, who say that it has been game changing for their patients who often lose lists or have trouble finding the items they need on busy pharmacy shelves. It’s literally as simple as the doctor clicking the items the patient needs, then sending them a link via email with photos and links to sales pages on Amazon.
How About HIPAA?
Amazon, Xealth and even the doctors who are testing the software are walking a fine line with HIPAA.
Technically, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, wasn’t meant to address patients who share their health information accidentally while shopping online (1996 was not a big year in eCommerce). The fact that the patient themselves are voluntarily sharing their health information with a health app like that produced by Xealth or an online retailer like Amazon keeps it all strictly in a very gray area.
Of course, Amazon is already looking for ways to turn that patient data into a gold mine of information for targeting sales messages. For example, Amazon’s algorithms are going to quickly catch on to the idea that if a patient needs a blood pressure monitor, they might also need compression socks.
Smarter Patient Care Through Data Mining
If Xealth’s app feels next-level terrifying, just wait until Amazon starts to make more noise about its most recent level up in SearchFoo.
The retail giant is distributing software that can scan through a patient’s records to help find patterns that may be useful in diagnosing complicated issues, as well as cutting the cost of medicine in general.
Apps like those from Amazon and Xealth are able to plug into a patient’s electronic medical record, giving both doctor and patient an easy way to access them when necessary. Whether giving the apps that much access to the patient is a good idea, however, is the concern. Is this a setup for a disaster when medical records are breached or is it the thing that finally changes medicine for the better in the U.S.?