Amazon makes its second digital health acquisition with Health Navigator

The five-year-old Illinois company offers digital health content middleware in the form of APIs used by Microsoft, MDLive and others.
By Jonah Comstock
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Amazon has quietly made another digital health acquisition, buying digital health startup Health Navigator for an undisclosed amount. CNBC first reported the news.

Founded in 2014, La Grange, Illinois-based Health Navigator offers digital health clinical content in the form of APIs that can be used by EHRs, telemedicine providers, health chatbots and medical call centers. 

Amazon will reportedly wrap Health Navigator into its Amazon Care offering which launched for Amazon employees just last month. Amazon Care will include telemedicine, online chat with a nurse, medication delivery and app-enabled house calls to the employee's office or home.

Health Navigator appears to have been largely if not completely bootstrapped, with no fundraising reported in the press or to the SEC. 

WHY IT MATTERS

If you haven't heard of Health Navigator, you've probably heard of the digital health companies who use their API, which include TytoCare, Pager, Avizia, MDLive and even Microsoft. According to CNBC, those partners may have to get along without Health Navigators' APIs as the company has not renewed many contracts.

Although it will undoubtedly draw comparisons to Amazon's $750 million purchase of PillPack last year, this is likely to be a much smaller deal. However, it does signal significant a level of investment by the company in Amazon Care. This, in turn, lends strength to the idea that Amazon Care isn't meant to remain an in-house offering for Amazon employees forever. Rather, the employee rollout could be a testing ground for a legitimate widespread telehealth offering from Amazon.

THE LARGER TREND

Interestingly, this isn't the first time Health Navigator has brushed up against the Seattle tech giant. In August of last year the company teamed up with healthcare software design and development consulting firm Macadamian to build a proof-of-concept skill for Amazon Alexa. According to the companies, the skill was a voice-enable triage service that incorporates Health Navigator content to help users understand how serious their symptoms are, or if they need to seek care.

“Solutions like the Health Navigator Skill can increase access to healthcare, while reducing the cost of care,” Dr. Jeffrey A. Schwartz, president of Health Navigator, said in a statement at the time. “By interacting with their voice assistant, people can easily make decisions about the level of care they need and can manage their symptoms in ways that are more cost effective than a trip to the ER or clinic.”