Amazon hires top Iora Health physician, CNBC reports

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Dive Brief:

  • Adding to speculation about the company’s intentions in healthcare, Amazon has hired Dr. Martin Levine, a physician who ran Iora Health’s Seattle clinics, sources told CNBC.
  • Levine is a geriatrician with experience treating older patients with complex medical problems. His Seattle practice focused on Medicare patients in six U.S. markets.
  • While his role at Amazon has not been disclosed, it’s possible he is joining Amazon’s nascent internal healthcare group.

A number of recent headlines have been touting Amazon’s ambitions in healthcare. As of yet, the company hasn’t taken any action publicly and these speculations are still whispers in the wings.

Still, the hire does point to interest in the space. Many tech companies have hired positions such as chief medical officers to get a deeper understanding of where business opportunities lie.

Levine’s hire follows a string of patchwork news regarding Amazon’s healthcare efforts.

In November, a series of filings with state pharmaceutical regulators set off a wave of speculation that the e-commerce leader was looking to sell drugs. The filings to distribute to a dozen or more states from three warehouses in Indiana suggested Amazon could deliver medical supplies, devices, gas or pharmaceuticals. However, distributing drugs would also entail a deal with a pharmaceutical benefits manager.

Those rumors were tamped down by correspondence to Tennessee and Indiana regulators that Amazon will not “store or ship drugs.”

Questions about Amazon’s designs on the drug supply chain reared up again when a notice appeared on the Maine Board of Pharmacy’s websiteshowing the firm canceled a pharmaceutical wholesaler application. Amazon has not offered any explanation for its actions.

Just last week, an Amazon job posting for a HIPAA compliance lead hinted at a healthcare initiative involving its Alexa virtual assistant. The posting is still online but the Alexa mention has since been removed.

Amazon in November was reported to be in talks to finalize a deal with health IT company Cerner, but the companies have not made any announcements.

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