Rumors about Amazon entering the virtual primary care space have been circulating for a while. Reports indicated that Amazon has quietly filed paperwork to provide virtual and in-person sponsorship in several states.
Now, Amazon has made the effort, as it were, and has confirmed that the services will be available nationwide starting in the summer of 2021. A spokesperson for Amazon confirmed that the service will be offered through Care Medical, a private, independent medical clinic made up of licensed doctors who have contracted With them Amazon as the Amazon Care Clinic team.
The Amazon Care offering now puts a large technology company directly into the healthcare services business for the first time. There are three important aspects of Care worth noting:
- The presentation addresses two major emerging trends in healthcare delivery: telehealth and home care. Besides filings for operating Amazon Care in multiple states, Amazon also announced its participation in the Home Healthcare Advocacy Group in early March. Moving Health at Home aims to advance home care, a trend that has already started with remote patient monitoring models for chronic care and acute aftercare management.
- The offer targets employers. “By providing Care as a workplace feature, employers are investing in the health and well-being of their most important asset: their employees.” Amazon has recognized a pain point for employers struggling with runaway inflation in healthcare costs. Talking about this need will make Amazon Care seem attractive to some employers. Businesses desperately need an alternative to the current situation anyway, so why not use Amazon Care?
- It raises the performance level of the incumbents. “Care enables employers to provide employees with access to high-quality medical care within 60 seconds, including round-the-clock care options through messaging or video.” Think of this as Amazon Prime’s same-day delivery on steroids. Amazon has rightly closed a critical gap in today’s telehealth experiences: reaching a medical professional in 60 seconds or less. Amazon Care eliminates long wait times and travel times to see a doctor and quickly provides care in the comfort of patients’ homes, 24/7. What do you not like?
Amazon Care combines the best parts of virtual care with a new approach to personalized care that brings doctors directly to the patient in their home. As working from home gains momentum, employers striving to preserve today’s busy workforce may find Amazon Care offers them an attractive mix of speed, comfort, and peace of mind.
Amazon hasn’t quite sparked the market with its healthcare initiatives just yet – except for causing chaos when it makes a healthcare announcement. The Haven Healthcare Initiative has garnered significant attention Folded earlier this year.
The Acquisition of birth control hills pioneer, who pioneered a new way to get prescription drugs home, has not overturned retail or drug distribution, and is still a niche player in the grand scheme of things.
Amazon continues to experiment with new and promising technologies, such as Alexa voice-based services.
It has announced various other initiatives, such as Halo wearable For health and wellness, and Amazon Health Lake data management product. The only exception remains AWS, the towering giant that has appeared out of nowhere and has dominated the cloud computing market over the past several years.
Healthcare has proven difficult to disrupt due to deeply entrenched interests. However, established players in other sectors have suffered turmoil before – media, hospitality, and personal transportation, to name a few.
Healthcare is already disrupting at the edges as early digital companies expand their footprint in primary and urgent care and consumers become more comfortable providing virtual care in the wake of the pandemic.
Most importantly, the health care system in the United States, which is the most expensive in the world, needs a new approach. The $3 trillion US healthcare market has plenty of room for innovators and incumbents. Competition and innovation lead to lower costs and improved quality across all industries.
Healthcare is still in the very early stages of transitioning to a completely new model of care. If was the company providing the big breakthrough we’ve been waiting for, then so be it. Someone has to do something.
Amazon has a history of building on experiences to learn from what didn’t work the first time, and keep messing around until it works. Learning from their healthcare bets so far, will everyone now be larger than the sum of the Care parts?
Paddy Padmanaban is the author of the book Digital Healthcare Transformation – How Consumerism, Technology, and Pandemic Are Accelerating the Future. He is the founder and CEO of Damo Consulting.