By Maria Sampalis, OD, of Warwick, Rhode Island
Amazon has come a long way since 1998 when it was simply an online book store. It has continued to innovate and challenge competitors to evolve and adapt or simply be left behind. Amazon Prime membership has 85 million members and e-commerce sales are more than triple compared to other competitors online. With the recent $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods and approval for pharmacy licenses could change the future of healthcare. Amazon has the data, infrastructure and innovation to change the pharmacy industry and possibly the eye care industry as well. Here are some ways that Amazon could alter the industry.
Amazon has the platform to develop a telemedicine app to connect customers to pharmacists and doctors. Browsing Amazon’s website and don’t know which contact lens solutions or artificial tears to pick? Simply click on the feature to talk to a virtual provider to help with your selection via the telemedicine app. The health care apps can be used to book doctor’s appointments and even pay for your visit. The app would be customer-centric and convenient and could synchronize with the Warby Parker’s refraction app to enable patients to get glasses. Consider the information that the app could provide to patients with pre-exiting conditions and direct them to local Amazon location or other company partners. The virtual doctor could review a health care product or condition that a patient is searching on the website to finalize the sale or prescribe a medication and be delivered by Amazon Prime Now service by an Uber driver.
Imagine using Echo to direct you to a virtual doctor that can answer your questions on over the counter products or prescribe a treatment plan without leaving the house? The system could potentially connect the patient via telemedicine to treat the patient and could pick up the medication at a Whole Foods pharmacy. Echo would be able to provide treatment plans with over the counter products. A treatment plan could possibly come up on the amazon app and with 1 click put in the product in the cart or either delivered within 2 days to your home or picked up at a Whole Foods kiosk. Not only that, but it would offer great personalization. Amazon is known to produce options based on an individual shopper’s purchase history. Amazon consistently sends emails asking about reviews on their products which would only help them grow their online eye care industry. When pairing this with a patient’s medical history it might become easier for them to refer a patient more detailed eye-exams in-office if they deem them necessary to partnered brick and mortar locations.
Read the rest of Dr. Sampalis' story on corporateoptometry.com.