Need to Know
- Amazon has launched a pilot program to administer healthcare services to its 54,000 Seattle-based employees and their families.
- Amazon Care will be run through a mobile app and feature on-demand chat and video consultations with healthcare professionals. Patients are able to schedule in-person visits to their home or office directly through the app.
- All payments are routed through amazon.com and the patient’s Amazon account.
- In January of 2018, Amazon launched a health care consortium in partnership with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase – called Haven.
- A short time later, Amazon purchased online drugstore Pillpack for $753 million, and just last year won landmark approval allowing voice-activated AI, Alexa, to transmit private patient information.
Despite a few previous attempts to enter the healthcare sector, Amazon’s new services pilot Amazon Care is the online retailer’s most direct exploration of the lucrative sector to date. Although the app is currently only piloted with Seattle-based employees, the program should help the retailer strategize its next moves, which industry experts claim could involve an aggressive health-care expansion.
Amazon Care provides patients access to on-demand chat and video consultations with medical professionals and gives users the ability to schedule in-person visits with clinicians. Payment for Amazon Care services channel directly through the patient’s Amazon.com accounts.
The goal for Amazon is to use its immense amount of resources (it’s the third-most valuable company in the world) to enter and dominate a new industry. And with over 750,000 global employees, if Amazon can perfect its won version of healthcare, it will lower costs and create a more productive and healthy workforce.
Industry insiders claim this is just the beginning for Amazon healthcare. “Amazon is in the business of reinventing business models,” Michael Abrams, managing partner at Numerof & Associates told the Seattle Times. “The kind of organization Amazon is, suggests they’re not going to stop with their own 54,000 people in Seattle or their half-million people nationally. They’re going to be scaling this up.”
If scaling up is indeed the goal, the e-commerce giant has quietly been making moves to better position themselves in the sector. In January 2018 Amazon hired Seattle geriatrician Martin Levine, who a few months later founded Oasis Medical Group. Amazon Care clinicians are employed by Oasis Medical Group.
Around January of 2018, Amazon formed a health care consortium with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, eventually calling it Haven. Haven’s goal is to leverage better service and rates from health care providers on behalf of the groups nearly 1.2 million employees. Amazon also jumped into the drugstore business with its purchase of online pharmacy PillPack for $753 million.
there is also a lot of room to work Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa into the healthcare world. Last year, Amazon won a handful of patents to let Alexa securely handle and transfer medical data, and even detect when someone may be sick because they are coughing, sniffling, or asking a question in a hoarse voice.
Despite its impressive health care portfolio, Amazon is not the first large scale company to see the value of an in-house clinic to treat employees. Last year Apple founded its own clinic network and Boeing works directly with health care providers to monitor how its employee’s health is handled.
Amazon Care is currently only available to employees and their families that are enrolled in an Amazon health insurance plan.