Amazon is on a mission to disrupt everything from retail to data storage to entertainment media, so it should come as no surprise that the Seattle tech titan has a secret team dedicated to innovations in healthcare.
A new report, from CNBC’s Eugene Kim and Christina Farr, reveals details about the team, which is code-named 1492, after the year Columbus discovered America. Two sources familiar with the matter told CNBC that 1492 is researching new opportunities in health-related hardware and software, developing projects like electronic medical records and medical treatment delivered remotely.
According to the report, the team is hiring for positions that are searchable on Amazon using the keyword “a1.492.” Amazon’s jobs portal says the positions are for “Special Projects.” The team is also working on healthcare applications for Amazon devices like the Echo and Dash Wand.
It’s the second time this year that reports have surfaced suggesting Amazon is doubling down on healthcare. In the spring, Amazon reportedly began recruiting a manager to lead a team focused on pharmaceutical sales.
The 1492 group is operating at Amazon headquarters in Seattle. The team stands to benefit from the region’s deep pool of healthcare tech talent. It also has the potential to compete with local biotech companies and healthcare innovators, like Accolade, which helps patients navigate the complex healthcare system.
In fact, one of the reasons Seattle tech vet Raj Singh joined as CEO of Accolade is how ripe the healthcare industry is for disruption. Singh used some eerily Amazon-like language to describe that motivation in an interview with GeekWire earlier this year. “The healthcare industry needs some obsession with the consumer, and the motives are not aligned… to create that obsession,” he said.
If Amazon makes an earnest play for healthcare innovation, it could have huge consequences for the industry. Amazon declined to comment when we asked about 1492, saying it doesn’t discuss rumors and speculation.