Secret Amazon team wants to fight Apple’s health efforts

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Apple Health
Amazon wants to follow Apple's health push.
Photo: Graham Bower/Cult of Mac

Amazon has a secret team working on new health technology that could go head to head with Apple’s.

The retail giant is said to be working on electronic medical records, telemedicine, and new health apps for devices like the Amazon Echo.

Apple has made a huge push into health since the passing of Steve Jobs, co-founder and former CEO, in 2011. His healthcare experience after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer is what inspired Apple Watch and its health tracking abilities, according to Apple analyst Tim Bajarin.

Apple now offers the Health app on iOS for recording medical data and the HealthKit framework that allows developers to build better health apps, and it has a dedicated health team that’s working to revolutionize the way in which we record, monitor, and share medical data.

These things mean Apple’s presence in the health industry is significantly greater than that of rivals like Google, Microsoft, and Samsung — but Amazon wants to fight that, according to two sources familiar with its plans.

CNBC reports that the company has s secret team dubbed 1492, headquartered in Seattle, that is dedicated to new healthcare technologies. It is working to make sharing medical data simpler, to diagnose conditions using technology, and more.

“The new team is currently looking at opportunities that involve pushing and pulling data from legacy electronic medical record systems,” reads the report. “It is also hoping to build a platform for telemedicine, which in turn could make it easier for people to have virtual consultations with doctors, one of the people said.”

Sources have not ruled out new healthcare devices, but it is believed Amazon wants to make health apps for existing products like Echo and Dash Wand. It has already begun recruiting workers with healthcare experience for a “Special Projects” team.

“Its cloud operation, Amazon Web Services, has also hired a slew of health experts to beat out Microsoft and Google for contracts with large hospitals and pharmaceutical vendors,” adds CNBC. “The company has also invested in a health startup called Grail as a very special kind of future customer for its cloud business.”

Amazon hasn’t commented on the claims, and it’s currently unclear when new health products might be coming to the market.