Hopes are high for Amazon’s entry into health care – as long as they don’t ‘pull a Facebook’

Amazon is entering the healthcare business. While there is great opportunity for success as it becomes among the first tech giant to enter the industry, it also means Amazon must tread cautiously. Success or failure could hinge on how the company chooses to manage patient data.

If done correctly, Amazon may be able to reinvent the drug supply chain and provide more transparency within the health-care system, said panelists at CNBC’s “Healthy Returns” conference.

Amazon’s plans to enter healthcare are already having an effect, as the industry maneuvers to prepare for the tech company’s entrance into the market.

“Amazon has done enough without actually doing anything (in health care) with all these mergers and acquisitions,” said panelist Faisal Mushtaq, CEO of Truveris.

For example, pharmacy benefit manager Express Scripts recently sold itself to a health insurer, a move Bill George, senior fellow at the Harvard Business School and former CEO of Medtronic called “a move of weakness, not strength.”

The way he sees it, Amazon is most threatening to pharmacy benefit managers. Because the current system is so complex and lacking in transparency, Amazon has an opportunity to streamline current processes. To do so, it will need to build something new while at the same time fostering consumer trust, said Julie Grant, a partner at Canaan Partners.

“Find a great simple use case that hits millions and millions of lives and show that you really are going to be working on behalf of people like us versus the businesses,” she said.

Amazon needs to navigate how it handles data and provide measures to prevent the sale of patient health data. This topic is of particular interest considering Facebook’s current woes.

George commented on this, saying, “I just think if they want to have trust, they better not pull a Facebook.”

Read the full coverage of the CNBC panel here.