Amazon Care expands telehealth and in-home healthcare services

Experts weigh in on whether the e-commerce giant’s offering will be formidable competition for primary care providers.

Amazon has expanded nationally its Amazon Care telehealth services, Amazon Care, which now also offers in-home visits by healthcare professionals in eight cities, and it plans to add those services in 20 more cities this year.

The hybrid program, which launched with a pilot project for Amazon employees in September 2019, gives Amazon the potential to tie care services to its Amazon Pharmacy and Pillpack mail-order business lines.

Amazon Care will enable users to receive follow-up tests, lab work and treatment in their homes in certain cities, Amazon says.

The move represents another step into healthcare for Amazon, one of the tech giants that has taken several years to intertwine some services that match up with consumers’ changing preferences for care delivery – particularly in light of the pandemic, which fueled demand for telehealth.

Walmart, some drugstore chains as well as convenience care suppliers already are offering easier access to on-demand care, siphoning off some patients from primary care providers. Emerging venues for receiving healthcare also may make it more difficult to exchange patient information and build a complete longitudinal record, some industry experts say.

Amazon Care expects to build a network of doctors and nurses across the country that “combines the best of virtual care with a new approach to in-person care,” offering services that range from primary care to chronic care management, Amazon notes.

The company says it already offers telehealth as well as in-home clinical visits in Seattle, Arlington, Va.; Austin, Texas; Baltimore; Boston; Dallas; Los Angeles; and Washington, D.C. This year, it plans to bring in-person care services to more than 20 additional cities, including Chicago, Miami, New York and San Francisco.

After launching the pilot program for Amazon employees in Washington state, Amazon Care started to provide services through arrangements with other employers, offering an app as a unified entry to care. The app runs on both the Apple and Android operating systems.

Amazon says it’s positioning Amazon Care to become “the partner of choice” for organizations looking to advance workplace benefits. It says Amazon Care provides access to clinicians through Care Medical, Amazon’s clinical care services provider.

Among the companies already offering Amazon Care to employees are Silicon Labs, TrueBlue and Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary.

Amazon has also been seeking to partner with major health insurance carriers, according to earlier news reports.

The slow rollout of Amazon Care beyond Amazon’s own employee base has given the company the chance to fine-tune its offerings for the evolving consumer market, says John Moore, founder and managing partner of Chilmark Research, a health IT research firm. “It began by first targeting other employers in the regions where Amazon Care has a presence and more recently, direct to consumers,” he says.

Moore says several other retailers are taking a similar approach to entering the healthcare market. Those include Walmart; Walgreens, through its investment in VillageMD; and CVS, with its MinuteClinics. “Amazon Cares is a more virtual approach than those,” Moore says. “We refer to all of this as omni-channel care, wherein consumers will have an ever-expanding array of choices and options to receive health services.”

Several years ago, Amazon attempted to team up with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase to create Haven, an early attempt to provide healthcare services to employees and reduce costs. But that effort ended last year.

The potential impact of Amazon’s latest initiative on healthcare organizations is “hard to gauge today, as most of these services tend to be episodic in nature and tapped by consumers because of convenience and access,” Moore says. “It will draw off some business from incumbents, but the greatest impact may be to primary care physicians, as there is a lot of overlap in the services offered.”

Amazon’s vast marketing reach, as well as its ability to integrate with other health components, such as in-home care, pharmacy services and medical devices, could give it an advantage, some observers say.

“Amazon has been working on this for a while, and the integration with (Amazon Prime) for healthcare will be significant, since they already have the subscribers,” said David Chou, a CIO in the industry and founder of “This is more of a B2C play, and Amazon is carving out the direct-to-consumer market for primary care.”

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