Amazon looks to expand its telehealth footprint
By Clare Duffy, CNN Business
The tech giant is expanding Amazon Care — which currently provides its Washington-based employees with access to virtual and in-person health services — to its workers nationwide. And it plans to offer the service to other companies as a workplace benefit for their own employees.
Amazon says the program's follows a "successful launch" for its tens of thousands of Washington workers 18 months ago.
"By supplying Amazon Care as a workplace benefit, employers are investing in the health and well-being of arguably their most important asset: their employees," Amazon said in a release Wednesday.
Virtual chats and video visits
Amazon Care gives workers on-demand access to virtual chats or video visits with medical providers who can provide treatment of illnesses or injury, Covid testing and flu shots, nutrition consulting, pre-pregnancy planning and a range of other services. Its doctors can order prescription medications, which are delivered to patients' homes by Amazon. The program also offers in-person visits by providers to workers' homes for additional services such as blood draws.
"The program's secure, HIPAA-compliant service also allows employees and their dependents to see the same dedicated teams of medical professionals, which creates long-term relationships that benefit overall health," Amazon said, adding that an app for the service is available to give employees easy access.
As of Wednesday, the full range of Amazon Care services is available to employees at other Washington-based companies. This summer, the virtual services will be available to employees of Amazon and other firms nationwide. Amazon also plans to expand the in-person visit offering to Washington D.C., Baltimore, Maryland, and other cities in coming months.
Amazon is in discussions with a number of companies about using Amazon Care, according to a spokesperson, who did not disclose the names of any potential customers. The spokesperson also declined to share details on how much it will cost other companies to provide their employees with the service.
This is the tech giant's latest effort to grow its presence in the multi-billion-dollar health care industry. In 2018, Amazon bought digital drugstore startup Pill Pack for $700 million and last year, it officially launched Amazon Pharmacy, which delivers prescriptions to customers homes and offers extra perks for Prime members.
More virtual care
The move to expand Amazon Care follows a boom in telemedicine during the pandemic — research firm Gartner estimates that by 2023, virtual interactions will exceed face-to-face health care visits.
Amazon's entrance into the space is likely to worry other digital health care providers. The day after Amazon's announcement, Amwell stock fell nearly 8% and Teladoc shares dropped 2%.The broader market was down across the board Thursday, with tech stocks in particular selling off
Amazon's health care ambitions haven't always panned out. In 2018, it partnered with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to form Haven, a company aimed at providing better health care services and insurance coverage at a lower cost to workers at the three firms — and potentially to other US companies. The venture folded earlier this year after struggling to make inroads with companies beyond the founding firms.
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