September 26, 2019

Inside 'Amazon Care': Amazon's latest move into health care

Daily Briefing

    Amazon is piloting a virtual clinic for Seattle-based employees and their family members, CNBC reports.

    Download the slide deck: What 'Amazon health care' could look like in 5 years

    Amazon has not formally publicized the news outside of the company, but a spokesperson for Amazon confirmed the launch of the pilot, according to CNBC.

    Amazon launches Amazon Care

    The clinic, which Amazon offered in partnership with Washington-based Oasis Medical Group, offers telemedicine and in-person visits. According to the clinic's website, Amazon Care is available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekends.

    According to the website, employees can use an app to schedule a video visit for diagnoses, treatment, and referrals. The app also includes in-app text feature that employees can use to text health care providers for advice about various health topics.

    Employees can also use the app to schedule follow-up appointments with a nurse at their home.

    In addition, providers will use the app to prescribe medications.

    Amazon Care will offer a variety of health care services including care for "urgent issues," such as allergies and infections; preventive health consults, such as vaccinations and lab work; sexual health services, such as contraception and sexually transmitted infection screening; and "general health questions."

    CNBC reports that in a message to employees, Amazon said, "Amazon Care is designed to help our employees and their families get access to a health care provider at any location (at home, at the office, or virtually), in real-time. It eliminates travel and wait time, connecting employees and their family members to a physician or nurse practitioner through live chat or video, with the option for in-person follow up services from a [RN] ranging from immunizations to instant strep throat detection."

    Amazon employees will be eligible to enroll in the new service if they are currently enrolled in an Amazon health insurance plan and live and work in service locations in the Seattle area. However, according to the website, the service is not available to employees who are enrolled in Kaiser Permanente.

    Implications

    According to CNBC, the pilot program could allow Amazon to test the virtual health clinics among employees before potentially expanding the offering to the public market. While other companies, such as Apple, have established their own health clinics for employees, Amazon has the potential to make "the deepest move into telemedicine" which could be a $130 billion market opportunity if the company expands Amazon Care beyond its employees, CNBC reports.

    Glen Tullman, the executive chair of the health care company Livongo, a partner to Amazon, said, "Amazon is a company that is experimenting a lot with a variety of opportunities in health care," said. "It's one to watch" (Reed, FierceHealthcare, 9/24; Farr, CNBC 9/24; Etherington, Tech Crunch, 9/24).

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