E-commerce giant Amazon is taking on the multi-trillion dollar digital health industry as it has reportedly established a “health and wellness” team within Alexa that's packed with veterans. Dipping a toe in the healthcare landscape, the company aims to provide an array of services in the grand scheme of things, which will be integrated within its voice assistant, and targets people suffering from diabetes and new mothers and infants, according to people familiar with the project. In an internal document obtained by CNBC, the new team within the Alexa division will work under a group called Alexa Domains and is made up of over a dozen people led by Rachel Jiang, who has been with Amazon in different roles since the last five years.
The creation of the health & wellness team is primarily part of the company’s foray into the digital health space which has been dramatically growing in the last couple of years. Apart from its function to transform Alexa into a medical care necessity, the team is also expected to meet regulations and data privacy requirements, which is synonymous to working through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Once Amazon obtains all the licenses in it needs for the team to fully operate, this will enable the company to share and upload sensitive health data with patients and medical professionals. Not to mention, the ability to integrate with third-party apps. Joining the health and wellness team are Missy Krasner, who has been with Amazon since 2017. Before Amazon, Krasner led industry initiatives at Google and Box, where she played an active role in the latter's HIPAA compliance acquisition. Another key member of the team is Larry Ockene, a veteran engineer who has been with Amazon for 10 years. And then there’s Yvonne Chou, another veteran at Amazon who has worked at Prime, fashion, and retail for eight years.
This may be a major move for Amazon entering the healthcare field, but this is not the first time that it has been heard dabbling in this lucrative industry. Among other things, it joined J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway early this year in a massive health venture to improve health care costs for their employees while lowering fees.