Amazon rolls out telehealth marketplace, AWS services

Amazon Clinic will initially operate in 32 states to offer virtual care, while additions to Amazon HealthLake take aim at imaging, analytics.

Amazon Clinic will aim to link consumers with telehealth providers who can treat about 20 conditions and do prescription renewals.

Amazon is strengthening its play in healthcare, making separate announcements with one aimed at extending its reach into consumer delivery, while another effort from Amazon Web Services aims to bring data lake and analytics capabilities to medical imaging.

On November 15, the retail giant announced the rollout of Amazon Clinic, which it expects to initially operate in 32 states and provide virtual care for more than 20 common health conditions.

That same day, Amazon announced new capabilities for its Amazon Web Services division – it’s detailed a preview of an expansion of its Amazon HealthLake initiative to store, structure and apply analytics to medical imaging. Called Amazon HealthLake Imaging, it expects to enable storage of vast quantities of medical imaging for healthcare organizations. Also, it announced Amazon HealthLake Analtyics to facilitate data analysis.

Together, the efforts show the retail company’s efforts to expand its healthcare footprint and, in the case of Amazon Clinic, provide another competitive option for healthcare consumers looking for virtual care. It pairs with Amazon’s proposed plan to buy One Medical to make care more convenient and accessible.

Easy access to care

Amazon calls its Clinic “a message-based virtual care service that connects customers with affordable virtual care options. Under the plan, Amazon Clinic is expected to be a “storefront” enabling connections between customers and “affordable virtual care options,” when and where such consumers that need services.

“We believe that improving both the occasional and ongoing engagement experience is necessary to make care dramatically better,” said a statement from Amazon. “Our new healthcare store lets customers choose from a network of leading healthcare providers based on their preferences. Every telehealth provider in Amazon Clinic has gone through rigorous clinical quality and customer experience evaluations by Amazon’s clinical leadership team.”

The service, accessible from the Amazon website, would require no appointment and promises personalized treatment from U.S.-licensed clinicians, which it identifies as qualified doctors and nurse practitioners. Care will be available for nearly 20 conditions, such as acne, cold sores, dandruff, motion sickness and more, as well as prescription renewals. After customers select their condition and complete an intake questionnaire, they can connect with clinicians through a secure portal that uses messaging. After the encounter, Amazon Clinic says clinicians will send a ”personalized treatment plan via the portal,” and forward prescriptions to the customer’s preferred pharmacy.

Prices for services will be set by the telehealth providers, not Amazon, which contends that the cost will include follow-up message-based consultations for two weeks after the initial consultation. However, Amazon Clinic does not accept insurance at this time, although consumers may be able to use insurance to cover, the costs of prescribed medications, which is not covered in the cost of the consultation.

The move comes just three months after Amazon announced it would be closing Amazon Care, an initial telehealth venture. This past July, Amazon announced plans to buy One Medical in July, although the acquisition has been stalled because of requests from Federal Regulators for more information about the proposed $3.9 billion buy of the primary care group.

Imaging, analytics in AWS

The addition of imaging capacity to Amazon’s HealthLake is intended to assist healthcare organizations in dealing with the scale and complexity of medical imaging data. In addition to the sheer volume of studies and the rising sizes of them, healthcare organizations are struggling to achieve insights from this data through advanced analytics and machine learning.

The HealthLake expansion into imaging offering is termed a “preview,” according to a blog by Tehsin Syed, general manager of health AI and Taha Kass-Hout, MD, vice president of machine learning and chief medical officer at Amazon Web Services.

The HealthLake Imaging service aims to speed medical image retrieval from the AWS petabyte scale cloud service, reduce the total cost of storage by 40 percent and improve the application of advanced computing to imaging studies.

AWS is working with Intelerad and Arterys as two of its launch partners; those vendors are said to offer, respectively, PACS systems and an AI platform. In addition, Radical Imaging is offering cloud-capable medical imaging applications, and NVIDIA is collaborating with AWS on developing a connector that uses MONAI, an open-source AI framework to develop and deploy models into AI applications at scale.

At the same time, AWS is offering Amazon HealthLakes Analytics, which is intended to use multi-modal data – which is high contextual and complex – to make faster progress in providing patients with highly personalized and precisely targeted diagnostics and treatment. AWS says the new service normalizes raw health data from multiple sources, such as medical records, health insurance claims and medical devices, into a format that can be easily queried and used for advanced analytics and machine learning.

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