Amazon and Apple are getting into medical clinics: here’s why

To get to their next trillion dollars, Apple and Amazon are realizing that they can’t ignore opportunities in the health sector. But to get that right, they need to focus on the things they’re good at.

Amazon is focusing on its area of expertise: the supply chain. The company bought PillPack, an internet pharmacy, and it has a grocery delivery business through Whole Foods. It is also working with two other employers, J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway, on an initiative to reduce health care costs.

Apple is taking a different approach in building health-tracking tools for the iPhone and Apple Watch. It has also made a number of small acquisitions in the space, including a medical record technology start-up called Gliimpse to help users access and aggregate their health information.

But these are just the things that we know about. Undoubtedly, Apple and Amazon, which both have a strong focus on research and development, are thinking about new health-focused hardware and software products for the next decade. And where better to try them out than by talking to their doctors and garnering feedback from real patients (incidentally, their own workers)? It makes a lot of sense, health experts say, especially for tech companies that are notoriously obsessed with secrecy.

“If Amazon and Apple had considered these clinics for internal use only, they would have likely outsourced to any of the number of clinics that offer on-site clinic services,” said Nikhil Krishnan, a health-focused analyst with CB Insights, a market research firm. “The fact that Apple and Amazon are testing it in-house means they want to test the model with employees, iterate, and eventually release this product to their respective customers.”

Jami Doucette, president of Premise Health, a company that helps run employer medical clinics, agrees. “Both groups are using themselves as a test group to learn more quickly, work out the kinks more rapidly, and bring a solution to market in a shorter timeframe,” Doucette said.

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