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Amazon Pharmacy, AWS Data Exchange, and JEDI


Nov. 19 2019, Published 12:25 p.m. ET

According to Gartner’s research published in April, the estimated share of the cloud business segment could cross $300 billion by 2022. US tech companies such as Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are trying to implement cloud solutions with varying degrees of success.

  • Microsoft (MSFT) won the JEDI defense contract to migrate the Pentagon’s defense database to the cloud platform. It was roaring success for Microsoft, much to the dismay of cloud business leader Amazon (AMZN).
  • Amazon Web Services launched a data exchange portal that would host content from third-party data providers like Reuters.
  • Google’s (GOOG) (GOOGL) decision to use the cloud for healthcare provider Ascension has backfired on Google. Now Google’s acquisition of Fitbit and the company’s decision to collect Ascensions’s patient data is under scrutiny. Media sources such as The Guardian and the Wall Street Journal hinted that Google could have migrated around 50 million American patients on the cloud.
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Why the fuss behind the Pentagon deal results?

Amazon Web Services is the undisputed leader in the cloud computing industry, and some industry sources claim that AWS holds one-third of the market share. As the frontrunner in the Pentagon defense deal, AWS did not expect to hear that the contract was awarded to Microsoft. Microsoft has the second highest market cap in the cloud sector.

AWS claims the reason that it lost this contract was cynical political hindsight. AWS made an email statement to CNBC, saying, “Numerous aspects of the JEDI evaluation process contained clear deficiencies, errors, and unmistakable bias — and it’s important that these matters be examined and rectified.” Amazon has raised this concern to the US Court of Federal Claims.

It is no secret that President Donald Trump has frequently criticized the Jeff Bezos–owned Washington Post. In July 2019, the New York Times reported that President Trump was keeping an eye on this contract. The report noted that Trump claimed that he was “getting tremendous complaints about the contract with the Pentagon and with Amazon.”

Did the President’s disdain for Bezos affect the outcome of this deal? Or was Microsoft the front runner in the deal all along? That is for the Court of Federal Claims to decide.

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Launch of Amazon Web Services’ Data Exchange

On November 13, Amazon Web Services officially announced the release of the AWS Data Exchange. The Data Exchange will host curated content from trusted third-party data providers. Some of the data providers include Reuters, Deloitte, Dun & Bradstreet, Change Healthcare, TransUnion, and Four Square. These data providers would use AWS cloud infrastructure and provide content to subscribed AWS users.

The general manager of AWS Data Exchange, Stephan Orban said, “AWS Data Exchange gives our customers the ability to quickly integrate third-party data in the workloads they’re migrating to the cloud, while giving qualified data providers a modern and secure way to package, deliver, and reach the millions of AWS customers worldwide.”

The AWS Data Exchange portal only allows qualified data providers to publish content. This way, there is an assurance that the Amazon data platform would not host any sensitive or personal data.

Google’s Project Nightingale collected sensitive health data

Google has been working with healthcare provider Ascension to migrate health data onto the cloud. Project Nightingale has been facing a lot of ire for collecting personal health records without the patients’ knowledge.

Google is in the data collection and advertising business, and this has led to speculation that personal information could be used for targeting ad campaigns. However, the tech titan released a statement saying that Google will not use the information to sell ads.

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HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) allows the use of health data for research as long as there are no datasets that can be used to identify the particular individual. CNBC reported that some Fitbit users are eyeing alternative wearable health-tracking devices. Google acquired Fitbit for $2.1 billion in November 2019.

Amazon enters retail pharmacy space with PillPack

Amazon purchased online pharmacy PillPack in June 2018 for $753 million. By the end of 2018, CNBC reported that PillPack had applied for pharmacy licenses to deliver medicines online. On November 15, CNBC released an online publication highlighting the Amazon branding of PillPack. The company logo had changed and now included the words “Amazon Pharmacy.”

PillPack delivers prescription medications and over-the-counter medicines to its members. All the pills are sorted and labeled for proper administration. Typically, PillPack delivers a whole month of medication along with daily dosage instructions. The online pharmacy has also partnered with multiple insurance companies. The website claims that the e-pharmacy services and shipping are free of cost and that members would only have to pay for the medicines.


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