One day, your hospital room — yes, the whole room — might be brought to you by Amazon. The eCommerce operator, continuing its push into healthcare, has begun selling MedModular pre-made “smart” hospital rooms via its marketplace.
Price? As of Friday (Jan. 25), a new room costs $285,000. (Shipping is free, though.)
The debut of ready-to-ship hospital rooms might elicit one of those surprised-not-really-surprised reactions when it comes to the longstanding subgenre of news that we at PYMNTS will take the liberty of calling “Hey, look what Amazon’s selling now.”
But selling such a product certainly makes sense, and not only because Amazon is striving to become a major player in B2B healthcare supplies, with such products as daily-use medical devices already for sale via the eCommerce operator. (And who’s forgotten Amazon acquisition of prescription delivery service PillPack and its Berkshire Hathaway healthcare joint venture with JPMorgan Chase?) What amounts to a hospital construction boom is happening in various places throughout the country — providing an opportunity for pre-made hospital rooms.
The manufacturer of the rooms being sold on Amazon, New York-based EIR Healthcare, launched its MedModular line in the second half of 2018. According to an interview the company gave to CNBC, the rooms sell for $814 per square foot. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, the most expensive major city hospital construction in the U.S. is in Honolulu (pretty much everything costs more in Hawaii due to shipping costs). There, building a hospital can cost between $475 and $760 per square foot. In Las Vegas, by contrast, the costs range from $285 to $455 per square foot. That’s not exactly an apples-to-apples comparison, but it gives an idea of the market.
That said, the design of the MedModular rooms can be customized according to buyer wishes (ortho patients have different needs than heart-attack victims, for example), and they come with bed and bathroom. The rooms can be stacked on top of each other or “inserted into a site-build superstructure,” according to EIR.
“We’re targeting hospitals and health systems,” Grant Geiger, CEO of EIR Healthcare, told CNBC. “There’s a trend towards bringing more transparency in the health care space.” He said hospitals could use the rooms for urgent care needs, or simulation labs. The military could also provide a market for these products.
The overall goal, of course, is to eventually make Amazon a main — if not sole — destination for hospitals looking for supplies, up to and including pre-made rooms. That is one of the reasons the rooms can be outfitted with cutting-edge healthcare technology. According to EIR, that includes touch-less operation of doors, faucets and sinks, visual displays and monitors and “patient engagement portals” — in fact, that last feature fits in the trend of allowing patients more and easier access to their healthcare data.
Part of the fuel behind construction of new hospitals is the race to move ahead in rankings and patient satisfaction surveys — that is demonstrated by numerous reports, included research from Norwich University. In fact, as a driver of “health care facility design,” that factor came in third — cited by 88 percent of respondents — after “enhancing operations efficiencies” (91 percent), and “improving patient and caregiver safety” (89 percent).
And when it comes to the top 10 designed priorities for hospitals over the next five years, “modular construction” came in 10th, behind such other features as “antimicrobial surfaces,” “expansion of mobile and cable networks for telehealth services” and “space and infrastructure to accommodate point of care technology.” The MedModular rooms also feature what look like reasonably-sized windows — reflecting another big trend in new hospital construction, which emphasizes the use of natural light to improve patient morale.
The sale of those hospital rooms on Amazon comes as the eCommerce operator enjoys increasing gains from its overall B2B business. Some of the most recent statistics that Amazon has released about its B2B operations showed that four years after its launch, Amazon Business is growing faster than its cloud business or customer retail operations. Some analysts have told reporters that Amazon Business could eventually surpass its retail operations in size.
If so, B2B sales of healthcare supplies — maybe even these rooms over time — promise to play an increasing role in the growth of that part of Amazon’s eCommerce business.