Amazon plans to provide health services to workers at other companies, says BI

The company has declined to comment on Business Insider's report that it will seek to expand the app-based Amazon Care beyond its own employees.
By Kat Jercich
02:46 PM

Business Insider reported this week that Amazon is planning to extend its app-based health service beyond its own employees, to workers at other companies.

According to the outlet, who spoke with five anonymous sources on the matter, the retail behemoth plans to sell its Amazon Care health service to other large companies, "bypassing health plans and brokers."

An Amazon representative told Healthcare IT News that the company does not comment on rumor or speculation.

WHY IT MATTERS

Amazon Care, in its current incarnation, connects Washington state employees via an app to medical providers for basic health issues like coughs or fevers.

Users can connect with a clinician via video calls or in-app text messaging. Workers in the greater Seattle area can access in-person care or have prescriptions delivered. 

The company provides the care with doctors from Care Medical, a Washington group that – according to BI's reporting – contracts exclusively with Amazon. 

Amazon Care has been kept separate from other health-related verticals at the company, including Amazon Web Services, Amazon Pharmacy and Amazon Business for healthcare. 

When other companies use Amazon Care's services, all the services (including in-person visits) would be available to workers who live near headquarters, said BI. Those who live in other cities or states would be able to access the virtual components, similar to Amazon staff members who live outside Seattle now.

Amazon would charge employers fees based on how many employees use the service per month, says BI. 

Amazon currently subsidizes video care, care chats and mobile care services for Amazon employees – a change from September, when only Care Chats were free. Employees must be enrolled in an Amazon healthcare insurance to use the service, and those enrolled in Kaiser Permanente may not participate. 

Following the publication of the Business Insider report, share prices for telehealth giant Teladoc prices dropped

THE LARGER TREND

Amazon has made repeated pushes into the healthcare space in recent months. 

In August, it released a wearable health tracker called the Halo, which uses five health metrics designed to give users a comprehensive look at their health and wellness.

In November, it rolled out Amazon Pharmacy, allowing patients to get medication delivered to their home.

And just last week, Amazon AWS released HealthLake, a HIPAA-eligible data management service.

ON THE RECORD

"Amazon Care offers a convenient way to connect to a clinician to access healthcare services without an appointment, or to access care when you have an urgent medical need. Afterwards, Care Medical’s clinicians will post a Care Summary to the app with information about your diagnosis and any prescriptions or follow-up actions you should take, which will help you update your other doctors," reads the Amazon Care website's FAQ section.

 

Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Twitter: @kjercich
Email: kjercich@himss.org
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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