Insight: Amazon made its latest move into healthcare

Text by CLOT Magazine

Courtesy of Artemis Vergou and Miki Chiu

Amazon, America’s largest online retailer, is set for world domination with its latest move into the healthcare space. According to the report, Amazon is partnering with Boots, one of the largest pharmacies chains in The U.K, so people in the UK will be able to order a home test for delivery via Amazon that will tell them whether they have had the coronavirus.

In August 2018, CLOT Magazine published an editorial piece AmazonCare(s). Is this the future of our NHS? The piece was written by Artemis Vergou and Miki Chiu and was the result of a speculative design project at Goldsmiths University, London. Speculative design, a kind of design not overtly focused on creating things, but ideas, is the most useful tool for us to imagine this future, they argued. It’s 2030, and the NHS has been bought over by Amazon. The new service is called AmazonCare, and like all things Amazon, it’s faster, cheaper, and more accessible than ever – but at what cost?, Artemis Vergou and Miki Chiu asked at the time. 

Vergou and Chiu imaged a future scenario (the year 2030) in which Amazon will take over the NHS, and as a result, they produced two short films that touch upon many current issues: such as data protection and large corporations taking over public services.

In the current climate of Britain is on the brink of Brexit, the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) has felt increasing strain as its budget is cut. The NHS struggles to find enough health care professionals to meet increasing demands and has been used as a political bargaining chip, they write about the intellectual process behind the project. As we speculated on how the NHS might survive or evolve in this future. One of these evolutions was to combine Amazon, a huge and incredibly efficient delivery service, with the NHS, they continue. 

With this work, some of the questions that they aimed to answer were what are the costs of this ‘free’ healthcare? What is the value of your medical data? What does it mean if a company knows your spending habits and your medical history? And today more than ever, after the Cambridge Analytics scandal and the news from countries such as South Korea and China in which their citizens are living under total digital surveillance, we should start thinking about how much of our data we are willing to share with the governments in order to fight the pandemic.

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