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Amazon Care also has an in-person component which it will be expanding to 20 more cities this year
After emerging as the big winner in 2020, telemedicine lost ground in 2021: while 32% of visits were virtual at the beginning of the pandemic, they fell to around 13% as of the middle of last year. Of course, that number is still much, much higher than it was pre-pandemic, when only eight percent of patients had even tried these services at all.
So, while virtual visits won't be the norm, or the majority of visits, any time soon, they are now a more viable option alongside in-person visits, and Amazon is going all in, announcing on Tuesday that Amazon Care, its on-demand, virtual care solution, is now available in all 50 states.
Launched in late 2019, Amazon Care allows users to access primary care doctors by letting them either exchange messages with their healthcare provider, or have a video visit. Visits can include be for conditions such as allergies, cold, flu, or COVID-19, as well as ongoing care needs, including chronic conditions like hypertension, coronary artery disease, asthma, diabetes, and mild to moderate depression and anxiety.
It also provides care for trouble sleeping, managing stress, pre-pregnancy planning, sexual health options, or pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP), along with preventive care, such as evidence-based screening and immunizations.
In addition to its virtual platform, Amazon Care also includes at-home visits, which are only available in certain markets; these occur when the Video Care clinician recommends an in-person assessment or treatment, which is then performed by a registered nurse, or what Amazon calls a “Mobile Care nurse,” in 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 who worked for Amazon in Seattle, before it was expanded in 2020 to all Amazon employees in the state of Washington. In 2021, it was reported that Amazon was planning to broaden it out to employees of other companies and, in May of last year, it signed its first enterprise client: Precor, a fitness company owned by Peloton.
On Tuesday, Amazon revealed that it signed three new partners who will be offering the services to their employees: semiconductor manufacturer Silicon Labs, specialized workforce solutions provider TrueBlue, and Whole Foods Market (which is also owned by Amazon).
The in-person part of the program will also be getting an expansion, with plans to launch in 20 more cities throughout the coming year, including San Francisco, Miami, Chicago, and New York City; in-person visits are already available in Seattle, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Austin, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Arlington.
"Patients are tired of a health care system that doesn't put them first. Our patient-centric service is changing that, one visit at a time," Kristen Helton, director of Amazon Care, said in a statement.
"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."
Amazon in healthcare
Healthcare has been a priority for Amazon 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 at the time, was to use technology to make healthcare simpler, higher-quality and lower cost. It quietly shut down last year.
In addition to Haven, Amazon also debuted its own pharmacy delivery service, 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.
2021 saw Amazon began offering a new mental health benefit for its employees, including free one-on-one counseling sessions. It also launched the AWS Health Accelerator, and it launched a prescription savings benefit. The company also made HealthLake, its service for healthcare and life sciences organizations, widely available.
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