With the launch of Amazon’s Halo, a health-focussed wearable, the first-party-data-fuelled company is setting up to disrupt healthcare – but the early steps it is taking with its new product reveal key lessons about the company.

This week, Amazon Halo's Principal Medical Officer Dr. Maulik Majmudar gave an interview to the tech site Protocol, in which he indicated the product’s next steps.

Though still in the early-access phase, Amazon’s Halo made waves when it was announced in late August. But as WARC posited at the time, what is most likely to define the device’s success is less about the what and more about how Amazon intends to do it. Here’s more about that how.

New categories

“Whenever we think about entering a new category at Amazon, there are two key questions we always ask ourselves. First and foremost: Does this matter to customers? Is there an unmet customer need here? And the second is: Can we as Amazon meaningfully differentiate and add innovation and value of the customer experience in the space?” Dr. Majmudar explained.

Amazon’s involvement, he suggests, stems from the seeming ineffectiveness of digital health services and devices, which over the last decade have failed to make any meaningful changes to the health of the population.

The company’s potency is twofold: few other firms boast the expertise and infrastructure in AI to meaningfully compete on that level. The other angle is its thoughtfulness, he says, with a product aimed not only on physical activity but on the social and emotional aspects of healthcare.

An enterprise offer

While the initial idea for the Halo device has surrounded individual memberships, it is enterprise customers that point a way to the broad adoption that the company needs. “There's incredible value in those enterprise customers; we will just see as we launch and go to [general availability] how we can have dialogues with those types of customers to make sure we can deploy Halo within those enterprises.”

But what for? “Whether it be employers who are prioritizing the employee health and wellness, whether it be hospitals or insurance companies [that] want to optimize their members' health and wellness,” Dr Majmudar suggests. While the device is certainly not diagnostic, it indicates a value at a broader level: of monitoring and maintaining either a workforce or customer base.

Third-party data sharing

This is a really hot aspect of the device, because it could prove to be Halo’s greatest success in a US healthcare world where more accurate data could save you thousands of dollars a year, but also presents big risks.

Majmudar explains that you don’t just sign carte blanche to partner firms (Cerner and WW are among initial partners). “We surface to customers specifically which individual data points will be shared, and we don't share all of them by design.”

“[For] Cerner, it was only body fat percentage, nothing else. For WW, it was [the] activity score. … Beyond that, customers can request to delete the data at any point in time.”

Bottom line

Now that the product has been announced, Dr. Majmudar says, the focus in on understanding what “aspects of the product and the service customers really engage with and doubling down there. The other one is, what are the features they're looking for that we may have overlooked or incorrectly assumed customers are not interested in”.

It all hinges on engagement now. Membership is crucial: “One of the critical reasons we did that is that it actually makes us accountable to deliver value. Traditionally, you buy a device, you paid for it, and it's all done. But if [we] don't deliver value — as Amazon, as Halo — customers will stop purchasing the memberships.”

Sourced from Protocol, WARC