What if Amazon ran a hospital?

A colleague sent me this thought experiment by Dr Bertalan Mesko and i think it runs as one of 2018’s worst ideas.

I of course see no problem in Hospitals USING Amazon to become more operationally efficient but a few weeks ago I got a tour of the Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital and Trauma Centre and the $75Million bit of corporate rebranding made me nauseous and washed away a good bit of the optimism that I have for the future of healthcare but the idea of a Hospital being run by the for profit tech/logistics giant is ghoulish.

Getting a tour of the Zuckerberg SF General Hospital

It’s not like we don’t already have enough big tech companies hoovering data worth billions out of public hospitals in exchange for a few free hotels/flights to senior staff or big Cancer Charities that the public trust getting caught using big data and private detectives to screw timely donations out of the families and loved ones of those effected by Cancer.

With a basic understanding of what Amazon does and every single thing a hospital should be doing it makes for an unthinkably unethical scenario when applied to the care of Patients. For example:

Amazon Prime

This model seems to be what the US Health Insurance companies have already perfected, once you’re invested you might as well use it right?

“Frequently Bought Together” and “Bought together”

Veterinarians already do this. Operating rooms will have the world’s slickest salesmen prepping Patients for operations. “While you’re having this polyp removed we could also syringe your ears, get our 5* rated podiatrist into do a bunionectomy, your genome read also suggests we should probably also remove your …… and we have a discount on that because a Clinical Research Organisation is looking to buy these removed organs”

Have one to sell

“Have one to sell” becomes “No problem if you can’t afford your care, you can always trade some blood, sperm/eggs, spare organs, etc”

Screen Shot 2018-02-02 at 11.04.16

The largest product catalog in the world

Perhaps this will be the first hospital where Patients are outnumbered by Specialist staff?


Walk this way and feel welcome to knock yourself out with inappropriate diagnostic tests…

Product Reviews by customers = Service reviews by Patients

It should be obvious how bad this would be. The Surgeon who saved my life has some of the worst online reviews I’ve ever read. I cannot fault his skills and he’s recognised by his peers and staff as one of the best in the world. Most of his work is on Patients who are family and friends of Medics who have the knowledge and experience to judge him properly.

Amazon 1 click ordering

Image the Doctors saying: “I’d love to give you more time to consider this but the system is sort of designed so that we have your ultimate decision in the next 20 seconds, so thanks for being so obliging…”

Search Results

Amazon has perfected search engine optimization and getting media headlines with drone delivery demos. It will be obvious that this Hospital is going to be the best hospital in the world if you read anything on the first million pages of an internet search or in any of the print publications that are owned by the corporations Billionaire mates…

Instead of running a Hospital wouldn’t it be better if Amazon focused on trying to help us move beyond the Hospital? Or followed Apple’s direction and tried to help Patients measure the value of the healthcare they’re getting (Amazon do a great job of doing something most hospitals would never do – list their prices!)?


Related post: Are the world’s biggest Pharmacy Retailers about to be Amazonised?

About David Doherty

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2 Responses to What if Amazon ran a hospital?

  1. Cbmdmacair says:

    Truly inspired commentary. What about a smart phone that always recognizes its owner

    • 3G Doctor says:


      Following my trip to a few Google Enterprise conferences I think we’ve already arrived at that situation. It just seems that for the most part brands aren’t letting the ‘owner’ feel like they’re being recognised (probably because most people get spooked by the concept of being tracked and feel a bit powerless when they realise a lot of the decisions they’re making are no longer all that autonomous).

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