Look out device makers — Amazon to sell glucose monitors, blood pressure cuffs
- Online retail giant Amazon is set to sell medical devices straight to consumers in a partnership with Arcadia Group, a consultancy with a history of partnering with big brand retailers such as Walmart Pharmacy to sell exclusive medical devices. Arcadia said it also developed the Freestyle brand, which was later sold to Abbott for $1.2 billion in 2004.
- Amazon will first start selling glucose monitors and blood pressure cuffs under the brand name of Choice, with supporting mobile apps. Diabetes and high-blood pressure affect more than 130 million Americans, according to the CDC.
- The devices can be purchased outside of consumers' insurance plans. "They will no longer be told by their insurance company what brand they can [buy]. Choice is freedom," Bob Guest, CEO of Arcadia Group, said in a statement.
Amazon is not alone in the quest to tap into the market for consumer health monitoring via connected devices.
The latest Apple Watch touts the ability to detect irregular heartbeats and falls. Best Buy recently purchased a health company focused on using in-home sensors to detect abnormalities in a senior's regular routine, which could possibly indicate a health condition.
Selling medical devices straight to consumers is just one more step into the healthcare space, a journey already catching the eyes of hospital leaders. Three-quarters of healthcare CEOs named Amazon as the biggest disruptor in the industry in a recent report from Reaction Data.
The e-commerce giant is pushing farther into the healthcare sector, with medical devices on its list.
It was recently awarded a patent that would enable Alexa, the company's voice-activated technology, to detect when a user may be sick, then prompting Alexa to suggest medicine to buy.
The move also follows Amazon's purchase of PillPack, an online pharmacy that ships pre-sorted medicine to patients in 49 states. The move has the potential to disrupt retail pharmacies such as Walgreens and CVS.
Before the PillPack deal was announced in January, rumors and speculation had swirled that Amazon would jump into the pharmaceutical space. Some said it was Amazon's potential entry into the sector that led CVS to acquire Aetna for nearly $70 billion, a deal that is expected to close by the end of the year.
In addition, Amazon has partnered with some of the country's largest employers to disrupt employee healthcare. The company it formed with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan has named Atul Gawande as CEO and recently hired consulting powerhouse Monitor Group to advise on improving care for people with chronic conditions.
It's also pushing to become a major distributor of medical equipment through its Amazon Business platform. It has been in talks with an unnamed major health system in the Midwest and hosted hospital executives at its Seattle headquarters.