Amazon, FDA meeting a harbinger for potential healthcare move

Is Amazon poised to join the fray of large technology companies jumping into the healthcare space?

Amazon representatives met with Howard Sklamberg, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's deputy commissioner for global regulatory operations and policy, late last month, according to a report by VentureBeat. That, in addition to the July hiring of Babak Parviz, an ex-Google employee who renowned for developing Google Glass and the company's smart contact lens, point to a potential move for Amazon, the article predicts.

Both Google and Apple this summer announced the launch of separate but similar online health platforms, the former despite company founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page stating publicly that healthcare is a "painful" business due to heavy regulation. Google Fit will aggregate data from fitness-tracking devices and health-related apps, and earlier this month, debuted a preview SDK for the platform.

Apple's HealthKit, meanwhile, announced in June, is a virtual service framework fostering data sharing between patients and medical professionals, third-party devices and medical institutions. Apple already has a partnership with the Mayo Clinic lined up, and also has spoken with Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, the Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.

Both companies also have met with the FDA, with Apple officials telling the agency that the IT industry may have a "moral obligation" to "do more" with health sensors and other similar devices.

Brad Thompson, a health attorney with Epstein Becker Green, tells VentureBeat that Sklamberg is "one of the most high-ranking officials at the FDA on the policy side," adding that from his purview, Amazon might be looking to "stitch together existing wearables into some sort of system."

Thompson also speculates that Amazon could be considering a health platform of its own that involves the company's new phone.

Interestingly in April, PwC's Health Research Institute published a report entitled "Healthcare's New Entrants: Who will be the industry's"

"Within a decade, the health and wellness business will look and feel like other consumer-oriented, technology-enabled industries--retail, banking, publishing and music," Vaughn Kauffman, principal at PwC Health Industries, said upon the release of the report. "Soon, healthcare will have its own, iconic, new economy brands."

Amazon's cloud infrastructure is able to support HIPAA compliant development of applications.

To learn more:
- here's the VentureBeat article