We'd argue yes.
Why you should keep an eye on Amazon—right now
Of course, Amazon Care is probably not your primary care competitor right now: The organization's current focus is on its employees in the Seattle region. And even if you are a provider in Seattle, you probably won't notice Amazon Care's presence until it starts expanding beyond the pilot, and there is no magic button to push scale overnight.
But few companies, if any, are as ideally positioned to bring care delivery to scale more quickly than Amazon. The organization's has an enormous, loyal customer base; a strong brand name; a streamlined supply chain; and it's made numerous health care-related acquisitions (not to mention it's purchase of Whole Foods in 2017, which gives them an extensive physical footprint).
To avoid being caught off-guard, you should track indicators to understand the speed at which Amazon Care could move to a regional or national scale, and you should continue honing your primary care strategy now, while you still have time to get out ahead of competition from Amazon.
To predict when Amazon Care is ready to scale, keep an eye out for when/if Amazon:
- Proves that it can successfully reduce the cost of care for its employees;
- Hires more providers and develops a physical infrastructure (possibly through existing clinic acquisitions, or by carving out clinic space in their existing retail spaces, like Whole Foods);
- Partners with health systems across the country, either to create complementary care networks, access providers, or leverage co-branding;
- Builds out a marketing strategy, likely tied to its existing customer base. This would involve finding ways to convince patients to get their care from the same place that they bulk order their paper towels; and/or
- Acquires more health care companies to establish a greater industry footprint.
How to bolster your program today
It is important to assess your strategy as you notice any of these red flags, especially if multiple flags emerge in quick succession. However, here are two no-regrets moves you should consider now that will strengthen your program today, and help you compete with Amazon (or other primary care disruptors) down the road.
- Focus on getting consumers to choose you for their primary care. Amazon Care is already hitting on major consumer preferences by meeting patients where they are—whether it be at work, in-house, or virtually. To compete, consider re-vamping your access strategy to incorporate features that consumers care about (i.e. price transparency, multiple access points, etc.).
- Leverage your system approach to retain patients across the care continuum. Unless Amazon starts partnering with health systems, system-ness is where you might have a leg-up on Amazon Care. Strengthen your referral network to capture upstream services in preparation for when Amazon Care is ready to scale.