Amazon is planning to open primary care clinics for employees at its Seattle headquarters, according to a report Thursday by CNBC.
When reached by GeekWire, Amazon declined to comment on the reported clinics.
The move is not altogether a surprise. Amazon has been eyeing new possible openings into the healthcare market for more than a year and it would not be the first corporation to add in-house clinics as a benefit for employees. Apple began work on similar clinics earlier this year.
The company reportedly met with several primary care providers before deciding to make the effort an internal project.
Primary care, the first-line of the healthcare system, is the focus of a number of innovative efforts as companies work to bring down healthcare cost. It is also a focus of Atul Gawande, the CEO of Amazon’s new joint healthcare company with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway.
Companies like San Francisco-based One Medical and Seattle-based Vera Whole Health, both with clinics near Amazon’s corporate headquarters, have been championing a membership-based primary care system as a way to innovate in the area.
In this system, employers or patients pay a flat monthly fee for unlimited access to primary care. The idea is to head off health problems early and incentivize providers to focus on getting people better rather than billing codes. Amazon could take a similar approach with these new clinics, particularly given CEO Jeff Bezos’ interest in the area.
Bezos was an early backer of another membership-based primary care company, Qliance, which folded last year.
And if the clinics do take that approach, it would be an experiment on cost at a huge scale. Ryan Schmid, the CEO of Vera Whole Health, told GeekWire in a previous interview that the company’s clients are able to reduce their overall healthcare costs by 25 percent by establishing a Vera Whole Health clinic in their corporate campuses.