Amazon looks to expand its employee telehealth service, adding 21 additional states

Steven Loeb · March 8, 2021 · Short URL: https://vator.tv/n/51f1
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The company is said to be looking to offer Amazon Care to employees at other companies

It's become clear that COVID took telemedicine, a service that many had but few used, and made it mainstream. The space saw huge gains in adoption, growing to 20 percent of all visits, as well as in investments, with dollars into this sector nearly doubling year-to-year from 2019.

There are some very big companies in this space right now, including AmwellMDLiveCarbon Health and Eko Health, all of which are going after the same finite number of patients and physicians. Now, even might to have to contend with the biggest behemoth in tech: Amazon. 

Last week, it was reported by Stat that Amazon is looking to expand Amazon Care, the company's employee telemedicine solution, to 17 states. Additional reporting from the Seattle Times puts that number at 21 states, including Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Montana, New Hampshire, Ohio, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont and Wyoming.

Launched in late 2019, Amazon Care makes it easier for employees to access primary care by letting them exchange messages with their healthcare provider, or have a video visit. The service also include at-home visits in some ZIP codes, where the Video Care clinician may recommend an in-person assessment or treatment by a registered nurse or what Amazon calls a “Mobile Care nurse,” who will come to the patient's home, a designated room on the Amazon campus, or other private location within its service area. 

Amazon Care also offers prescription medication delivery from a Care Courier.

The service was originally available only to employees that worked for Amazon in Seattle, before it was expanded last year to all Amazon employees in the state of Washington. Though only Amazon employees are able to access it at the moment, the speculation is that the company plans to broaden out its offering beyond its own workers; there has already been reporting that Amazon is looking to start offering Amazon Care to employees at other companies, including Zillow. 

This news comes at the same time that Amazon Care announced that it launched a group called Moving Health Home "to fundamentally change the way policymakers think about the home as a site of clinical service." The initiative is part of a new coalition of companies in the healthcare space that includes Landmark Health, Signify Health, Dispatch Health, Elara Caring, Intermountain Healthcare, Home Instead and Ascension. 

VatorNews reached out to Amazon for confirmation and comment on these reports, but the company declined to comment. 

Amazon in healthcare

Amazon has made healthcare a clear priority for at least the last few years; one of its biggest initiatives was Haven, the healthcare company that emerged from a joint venture between JP Morgan Chase, Amazon and Berkshire Hathaway in 2018. The goal, the company said, was to use technology to make healthcare simpler, higher-quality and lower cost. It quietly shut down earlier this year.  

While Haven had big goals to disrupt the entire healthcare ecosystem, Care is one of a number of relatively smaller initiatives that Amazon is putting in place, including debuting its own pharmacy delivery service last year, which followed its purchase of online pharmacy PillPack for over $700 million in 2018, as well as the launch of its own line of over the counter drugs.

In 2020 alone, Amazon began offering a new family care benefit to its 650,000 full and part-time Amazon and Whole Foods Market employees through Care.com and it announced a healthcare pilot with primary care service provider Crossover Health to establish local, convenient health centers near Amazon fulfillment centers and operations facilities. The company also unveiled a new wearable wristband called Amazon Halo, along with the Amazon Halo app, which uses multiple sensors, including an accelerometer, a temperature sensor, and a heart rate monitor, to monitor activity, sleep, body fat and voice.

While these services lack the broad ambition of something like Haven, anything Amazon does, simply due to its size, is going to have seismic implications; much like Amazon Pharmacy did to other drug delivery companies, those in telehealth are going to have to reorient themselves around the coming arrival of the second richest company in the world entering their space.

(Image source: techcrunch.com)

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