Amazon invests in home health, is it the model of the future?

In the US, Signify Health points out, the real stakes are patient data. Here’s what can happen in Europe

The first concrete steps, in the United States, are already being taken. Amazon invests in health and points firmly to the home medical care business. The news, revealed by the Wall Street Journal, is that Jeff Bezos’ creature is in the running to acquire Signify Health, a Texan multinational that provides ad hoc personnel and technology.

It is not certain that it will reach the acquisition, because it has to outperform the competition from UnitedHealth, the giant of medical policies, and CVS, the largest American pharmacy chain. But it is another piece that we are trying to add to a mosaic already under construction, given the recent acquisition of 1Life Healthcare, a chain of clinics in San Francisco. In addition to expanding into a rich and ever-growing market, such as healthcare, the stakes are also about the sensitive data of millions of patientswhich are evidently a gigantic opportunity for Amazon.

What happens in the United States, while considering a structurally different market, can pave the way for global development. It happens often, even in other areas. In this case, the question is whether this model is replicable in Europe, and in Italy. The answers, collected by Adnkronos Salute, are significant.

Home healthcare, remote assistance: the ability to manage care, in person or remotely, through technology, represent “a process that is now essential, which comes from afar” and which, in these years of pandemic, “has done a leap forward. There is no need to be scandalized if, in a healthcare system based on the private sector like that of the United States, a giant like Amazon wants to focus on this sector “. Also in other areas of the planet, in particular “India and China are well advanced in this sector but it is the State that manages it”, he explains. Walter Ricciardiconsultant to the Minister of Health and full professor of Hygiene at the Catholic University.

All this shouldn’t scare you. “Doctors or health workers will certainly not be replaced by machines, but organizations that do not use machines will be replaced by organizations that use technologies,” she explains. “Covid has accelerated the scientific evidence of the usefulness of remote assistance – he continues – giving further propulsion to a dynamic in the act of growth. China and India, as countries, they have very clear ideas on the subject, with advanced public strategies. The US does not have a public program and therefore the void is filled by companies, such as Amazon. In both cases the ‘appetite’ for citizens’ data is important and is an element not to be overlooked, with the many socio-political implications it has “, adds Ricciardi, specifying that” when dealing with different models, I do not demonize one or the other “. In this scenario,” Europe is moving with great determination to have its own program and specific model, also linked to its culture of privacy. Unfortunately, with respect to European activities, Italy is enormously behind “.

Equal caution comes from doctors. “The evolution in the US of the home care ‘market’ and of the various citizen health services in which private giants such as Amazon are interested show once again that we are very fortunate to have a national health service like ours, whose goal it’s just health, “he comments the president of the National Federation of Medical Orders (Fnomceo), Filippo Anelli.

“In our system – he adds – there is a tendency to guarantee home care and the Pnrr aims to bring this type of assistance, which today represents 4% of the treatments provided, to 10%, free of charge without costs for citizens. This means that systems like the Italian one, based on primary care, are able to provide citizens with a type of assistance that has no economic limitations. With Amazon and the other chains competing for the American health market, however the service is paid “.

In any case, home care “will develop enormously in the future, not only medical assistance, even nursing and pharmaceutical assistance on which I believe that Amazon particularly points. The private system should certainly not be demonized but, if we look at the globality of assistance response, our health indicators are very high. And, at the same cost, we are at the top in terms of effectiveness “, claims Anelli.