Details about Amazon's ambitions in healthcare are still sparse at this point, but the online retail giant appears to be building an all-star team to lead the new venture.
Earlier this year Amazon announced a partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to create a new venture aimed at lowering healthcare costs and improving quality for employees. The company is also reportedly looking to give traditional medical suppliers a run for their money.
CNBC reported late last week that Amazon quietly hired Taha Kass-Hout, MD, a former FDA chief health informatics officer, to serve in a business development role focusing on healthcare projects. The report cited an unnamed source with knowledge of the hire. Kass-Hout joins Babak Parviz, a former Google X director who joined Amazon in 2014 as a vice president.
Kass-Hout, a Harvard-trained physician, worked at FDA from March 2013 through June 2016 as a chief health informatics officer. He also served as the agency's chief technology officer and the director of the health informatics office, among other roles, according to his LinkedIn profile. Prior to FDA, he worked at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as the director of health informatics solutions and operations. Most recently he was the chief digital health and intelligence officer at Livonia, MI-based Trinity Health.
While at FDA, Kass-Hout helped initiate the agency's OpenFDA project, an application programming interface designed to give medical device developers and researchers easier access to reports in the Manufacturer and User Facility Device Experience (MAUDE) database.
Based on his past interests and experiences, the CNBC report speculated that Kass-Hout could help Amazon build a product that offers consumers easier access to their medical records. He could also help his new team with regulatory issues.
Earlier this year the company also hired a prominent Seattle-based geriatrician with expertise in innovative care delivery models.