Healthcare is getting the Amazon treatment.
The tech giant today launched Amazon Care, a primary care service for its employees that combines telemedicine checkups, at-home or in-office doctor’s visits and prescription deliveries through a single program.
This is the latest move into healthcare by Amazon, which has also been pursuing prescription drug delivery, dabbling in employee benefits, using cloud computing to mine medical records, and reportedly developing earbuds that track your activity. Tech rivals like Apple, Google and Microsoft are also making headway into healthcare with efforts that range from health-oriented wearable devices to artificial intelligence systems that can diagnose diseases.
Here’s how Amazon Care works: Sick employees can sign into a mobile app to meet with a nurse practitioner in real-time through text or video. If the condition can’t be diagnosed or treated remotely, the employees can request that a clinician visit them at home or in the office to perform exams, administer vaccines, collect samples or other common tasks. The program also includes a service for prescriptions, which may be delivered in as little as two hours or sent to a pharmacy to be picked up.
Amazon has contracted Oasis Medical Group, a service provider, to deliver healthcare services to its employees. According to public documents, Oasis is led by Dr. Martin Levine, who was reportedly hired by Amazon last year and identifies himself as a consultant with the company. Martin previously led a network of clinics in Seattle at Iora Health, which offers primary care for Medicare patients.
But what’s most surprising about the pilot program, called Amazon Care, is that it’s unrelated to the company’s two most prominent healthcare efforts. Pillpack, the drug-delivery startup that Amazon reportedly paid $1 billion for last year, isn’t involved in the program, a company spokesperson told GeekWire in an interview. Neither is Haven, Amazon’s joint healthcare venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway that was created specifically to improve healthcare for employees.
Instead, Amazon Care is being run through the company’s employee benefit group. Right now, it’s an invite-only service available to several thousand Amazon employees in Seattle, but the company hopes to roll it out employees in other cities if the pilot goes well, the spokesperson said. Amazon doesn’t plan to offer the service to the general public.
Remember that time when Amazon built AWS for itself? https://t.co/ePIlDExGtF
— Rani Molla (@ranimolla) September 24, 2019
“We’re currently piloting a healthcare benefit designed to help Amazon employees get fast access to healthcare without an appointment, at the convenience of their schedules, at their preferred location (home, office, or virtual),” the company said in a statement. “Amazon Care 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 registered nurse ranging from immunizations to instant strep throat detection.”
The sign-up website for employees is now live at Amazon.care and was first spotted by CNBC reporter Christina Farr, who reported last year that the company was planning a healthcare clinic pilot program.
In a similar effort, Apple launched a network of medical clinics for its employees last year.
In addition to giving employees more convenient access to healthcare, Amazon Care also has the potential to reduce the amount of time that patients spend out of the office at doctors’ offices or sick at home.