Amazon's company YouTube page posted—and quickly unpublished—a video describing what may be the company's next health care move: a new telehealth offering called "Amazon Clinic," Nicole Wetsman reports for The Verge.
According to the "leaked" video, Amazon Clinic customers would fill out a questionnaire about the symptoms they're experiencing and pay a fee. A clinician would then review the answers on the questionnaire, provide a diagnosis, and prescribe any necessary medications.
"Telehealth services are offered by third-party healthcare provider groups," text in the video said. The video also directs customers to amazon.com/clinic, a website that is not currently live.
The video says any prescriptions would be sent to "your pharmacy;" however, Wetsman reports it's unclear whether the program will direct people to Amazon Pharmacy.
The potential new program comes just months after Amazon announced it would shut down Amazon Care, its primary care service sold to employer health plans.
At the time, Neil Lindsay, SVP of Amazon Health Services, said the company "determined that Amazon Care isn't the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers and have decided that we will no longer offer Amazon Care after December 31, 2022."
However, Lindsay added that Amazon was still committed to its health care businesses. "Our vision is to make it easier for people to access the health care products and services they need to get and stay healthy," he said. "We know accomplishing that won't be easy or fast, but we believe it matters."
Amazon's potential new telehealth offering also comes months after the company announced it was acquiring primary care provider One Medical for around $3.9 billion. It's unclear whether the third-party health care provider groups mentioned in the Amazon Clinic video would include One Medical, Wetsman reports.
Christina Smith, a spokesperson for Amazon, declined The Verge's request for comment on the video and on Amazon Clinic. (Wetsman, The Verge, 11/9)
An asynchronous telehealth offering from Amazon should come as no surprise to those who have been following Amazon's health care moves closely. The shuttering of Amazon Care and the acquisition of One Medical signaled a shift, even if just a short-term one, away from a focus on helping drive down employee health care costs and towards a focus on the health care consumer. An asynchronous telehealth platform fits nicely into that consumer play, allowing Amazon to expand into the urgent care consumer market.
Amazon is clearly prioritizing health care investments that they can connect to their existing offerings. There are considerable technical hurdles to that kind of integration, but in this case, it is easy to imagine a world where an "Amazon Clinic" asynchronous visit leads to a patient getting a prescription filled through Amazon Pharmacy. Or perhaps a scenario where a patient that schedules an asynchronous doesn't have a PCP—Amazon could eventually connect that patient to One Medical.
Looking ahead, we would expect other health care and technology giants to respond with their own partnerships or acquisitions in this asynchronous space. Digital health offers organizations a chance to compete at the entry points of health care in new and different ways. Hybrid primary care models, asynchronous telehealth for urgent care, and even virtual-first plans are allowing organizations a chance to reach consumers they would not traditionally reach at an earlier point in their care journey.
For Amazon, this move means they could soon have the chance to capture patients via primary care, asynchronous care, or pharmacy, and then direct them to other Amazon services. While other major players may look to different specific capabilities, digital health will remain the vehicle that allows them to expand into new markets with new capabilities.
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