Amazon Has Top Secret 1492 Unit Working on Healthcare and Telemedicine

Published: Aug 01, 2017

Amazon Has Top Secret 1492 Unit Working on Healthcare and Telemedicine July 28, 2017
By Mark Terry, Breaking News Staff

Seattle – Although Amazon is apparently not discussing it, it has been leaked that it has a stealth research team dubbed 1492 that is developing technology for healthcare. 1492 is the year that Columbus reportedly discovered the New World.

CNBC reported that 1492 appears to be involved in pushing and retrieving data from legacy electronic medical record systems with the goal of making that data available to consumers and their physicians. They are possibly interested in developing a telemedicine platform and possible healthcare-related applications for existing Amazon products, including Echo and Dash Wand. At this point, it is not known if 1492 plans to push into the healthcare device market.

Much of the existence of 1492 is based on Amazon’s job postings for positions that were originally published on July 26 under a keyword search term of “a1.492.” CNBC writes, “Some job posts described the position as ‘The Amazon Grand Challenge a.k.a. “Special Projects” Team.’ The unit also had ads posted for a UX Design Manager for its ‘new vertical,’ as well as a machine learning director with experience in healthcare IT and analytics and a knowledge of electronic medical records.”

They also mentioned two team members, Kristen Helton and Cameron Charles, who listed their affiliation with the group on their LinkedIn pages. However, on July 27, all references to a1.492 had been removed from the LinkedIn profiles and Amazon’s jobs site. Amazon did not respond to CNBC’s requests for comment.

Amazon’s interest in healthcare, or the tech industry’s forays into healthcare, are not new. Earlier this summer, there were reports that Amazon was looking to break into the pharmacy sector. Facebook is pushing hard into healthcare with its Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, which pledged $3 billion toward basic science research over the next 10 years and the development of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. And Google’s Alphabet has several life science companies, notably Verily Life Sciences and Calico.

Apple , Microsoft and Google have all made efforts to break into the healthcare market. Both Google and Microsoft had difficulties, however, in successfully launching their consumer healthcare records products, Google Health and Microsoft’s HealthVault.

And Amazon has also invested in Grail, Illumina ’s startup company that has the goal of developing early cancer diagnostics tests from blood samples. Amazon Web Services, which is the company’s cloud unit, is aggressively working to win contracts with pharmaceutical vendors and hospitals.

CNBC notes that Amazon’s business division has been focusing on opportunities in what is perceived as a $3 trillion business sector. “It has been selling medical supplies for several years, which poses a big threat to the U.S. distribution business, and is looking to build out a pharmacy business.”

The U.S. healthcare system’s pharmaceuticals and products are typically acquired through large distributors, such as Cardinal Health , McKesson and AmerisourceBergen . As Seeking Alpha wrote, “Pharmaceutical distribution is the wholesaler/middleman link in the drug distribution chain. These companies buy meds directly from the big suppliers like Pfizer and Merck , warehouse them, and then distribute them to the tens of thousands of pharmacies throughout the United States.”

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