Amazon lures ex-FDA chief health informatics officer for healthcare skunkworks

Amazon (NSDQ:AMZN) is continuing to build its healthcare team, this time picking up former FDA chief health informatics officer Taha Kass-Hout, according to a report from CNBC.

Kass-Hout is slated to take up a business development role with Amazon’s Grand Challenge team, a moonshot technology program similar to Google‘s (NSDQ:GOOG) Google X lab, according to the report.

Amazon has not yet released details on the hire, or what projects in specific that Kass-Hout will work on as the company stays hush-hush on its healthcare endeavors.

Kass-Hout will reportedly be working alongside Amazon Grand Challenge chief Babak Parviz, who previously acted as a director at Google X but jumped ship to Amazon in 2014 as a VP, CNBC reports.

Amazon may be looking to use Kass-Hout’s expertise in healthcare informatics in a project aiming to improve consumer access to healthcare records, CNBC theorizes. The move would be in line with Kass-Hout’s previous work, as he led the openFDA initiative while at the Agency in 2013.

Most recently, Kass-Hout worked at Michigan’s Trinity Health, departing last May according to his LinkedIn profile.

In February, the Wall Street Journal reported that Amazon was looking to revamp its medical supplies business and turn the unit into a major supplier to US hospitals and clinics.

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Medtech’s existential crisis and how it can survive

The new EY report even includes an equation to show how medtech and other life science companies will need to deliver value: “Future value (FV) is driven by innovation (I) that focuses on outcomes with a high degree of personalization and is fueled
by unlocking the power of data (D.” [Image courtesy of EY]

Executives in medtech and other life sciences companies view digital health startups and high tech giants as an existential threat. To compete, they’re going to have to invest in or acquire customer engagement and personalization skills usually associated with online retailers and social networking sites, according to a new report out today from EY.

The report — Life Sciences 4.0: Securing value through data-driven platforms — quotes Johnson & Johnson CEO Alex Gorsky to indicate where things are going:  “Technology will touch everything that we do, whether it’s the way we use data to better understand the genome … or as it applies to things like minimally invasive surgery, even the way we talk to consumer vis-à-vis social media.”

Technology isn’t the only factor driving the change. Aging populations in the developed world mean that both public and private payers are tackling budgetary constraints and longstanding inefficiencies in healthcare systems.

In the medical device industry, companies are having to decide whether they are products companies selling to health providers or services companies focused on patients as a customer, according to the report’s author, Pamela Spence,  EY Global Life Sciences industry leader.

“I think companies need to decide what they want to be. … It’s hard to do both,” Spence said during an interview with our sister site Medical Design & Outsourcing.

Get the full story on MDO. 

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