With the rapid growth of telehealth, it was only a matter of time before “Big Tech” came after a slice of the digital pie. Amazon is doing just that. The Mountain View, CA-based company said earlier this week that it was going to offer telehealth services through its Amazon Care component.
Amazon Care was launched initially launched in 2019 as a pilot program. It has since expanded and plans now call for in-person services to be rolled out in more than 20 new cities this year.
“Patients are tired of a healthcare system that doesn't put them first. Our patient-centric service is changing that, one visit at a time,” said Kristen Helton, director of Amazon Care. “We’ve brought our on-demand urgent and primary care services to patients nationwide. As we grow the service, we’ll continue to work with our customers to address their needs."
The company said Amazon Care provides immediate access to a wide range of urgent and primary care services, including COVID-19 and flu testing, vaccinations, treatment of illnesses and injuries, preventive care, sexual health, and prescription requests and refills.
When issues can’t be resolved over video, Amazon Care will dispatch a nurse practitioner to a patient’s home for additional care where in-person care is available, ranging from routine blood draws to listening to a patient’s lungs.
Amazon began delving into healthcare well before the pandemic began – and there have been some wins and losses.
Four years ago, the company caused quite a stir in healthcare when it announced Haven, a new healthcare venture being formed by Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase & Co. However, the trio backed away from the venture early last year.
The mission was straightforward: tackle the high and rising costs for employee healthcare. The execution was not – with each company working on their own projects separately with their own employees.
One of Amazon’s wins was a partnership with Arcadia, a consultancy group. The collaboration called for Amazon to launch an exclusive brand of consumer-use medical devices for diabetes and hypertension management.
Amazon also hired Taha Kass-Hout, MD, a former FDA chief health informatics officer, to serve in a business development role focusing on healthcare projects – a power move that showed its deepening commitment to healthcare.