Amazon Care reaches across the country

Photo: Amazon
Feb 10, 2022 has launched its Amazon Care telehealth service nationwide and is opening physical clinics to more than 20 cities this year.

The service was first tested in 2019 for Amazon employees in Seattle before being rolled out to all the company’s workers in 2020 as well as those employed by other businesses. Amazon Care includes Hilton, Precor, Silicon Labs, TrueBlue, and Whole Foods Market among its corporate customers.

Employers using the Amazon Care system have given it a 4.7 out five stars rating. Key benefits are its comprehensive suite of services, on-demand access to clinicians and a seamless patient experience.

Amazon believes that its combination of telehealth and in-person services is the best of all medical worlds with its focus on delivering high quality care in a cost-effective manner. Members receive immediate access to primary and urgent care services through the Amazon Care app. Services include testing for COVID-19 and the flu, vaccinations, preventative care, sexual health, treatment of illnesses and injuries as well as prescription requests and refills. A nurse practitioner will go to a patient’s home in cases where a patient’s health issue can not be addressed by video.

Demand for Amazon Care’s telehealth services has grown, according to the company, as a result of the pandemic, which is also creating demand for in-person services. The company now operates clinics in Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Seattle, Washington D.C. and Arlington, VA. Amazon plans to add clinics in Chicago, Miami, New York City and San Francisco this year as part of its planned 20+ city expansion.

“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 Care grew out of a healthcare project announced in 2018 with Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan Chase known as Haven. That initiative, which was later abandoned for the companies to work on individually, was focused on lowering the costs associated with healthcare without cutting service corners.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What will the expansion of Amazon Care mean for the Amazon brand? How do you view Amazon’s overall healthcare and wellness approach compared to those of CVS, Kroger, Walgreens, Target, Walmart, et al?

Please practice The RetailWire Golden Rule when submitting your comments.
"As always, customer (or patient) obsession, tech mastery and omnichannel efficiency will differentiate Amazon from its rivals."
"Amazon’s goal is to create an unbreakable link to the consumer so what better avenue to explore than healthcare?"
"Ideally, they move the needle with insurance too, shifting it from employer-based to customer-based."

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14 Comments on "Amazon Care reaches across the country"

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Lisa Goller

Healthcare’s costly inefficiencies and pharmacy’s juicy margins invite Amazon’s ambition. Amazon is really the Efficiency Store and its process reengineering will improve patient safety and cost savings. Eventually, Prime Air drones could deliver lightweight necessities like medications.

As always, customer (or patient) obsession, tech mastery and omnichannel efficiency will differentiate Amazon from its rivals.

Gary Sankary

Overall, if the customer experience is good this has potential. Amazon’s strategy of partnering with employers, I assume to make this a preferred provider, will give them an advantage over some of the retailers clinic options.

DeAnn Campbell

If Amazon can bring the same convenience, accessibility and affordability to healthcare as they have for online shopping it could change the face of the health care industry. Amazon’s existing digital infrastructure is perfect for enabling a robust telehealth experience, their logistics network is a powerhouse for delivering medications and health related products and the Amazon Care facilities they built for employees have acted as a prototype that will help them roll out brick-and-mortar clinics quickly. Other competitors, like CVS, Walgreens or Walmart, have only parts and pieces of what Amazon has spent decades perfecting. And Amazon’s 200 million plus Prime membership offers a deep pool of customers who have been waiting with bated breath for a more accessible health care option.

Dion Kenney
9 months 28 days ago

There are few companies that have willingly taken on large, complex industries and re-designed them by leveraging 4th Industrial Revolution frameworks better than Amazon. And the fundamental premise is correct, the U.S. healthcare industry is a mess – costing too much, providing less-than-world class care, bureaucratic, and destroying the relationship between physician and patient.

And Amazon has created powerful solutions that have shown others (competitors!) in the industry how to leverage new technologies, frameworks, and operational models. That said, the healthcare industry is the land where smart and brave overachievers have gone to die. I am not sure that Amazon’s inclination to “do things their way” will work well in an industry that is heavily regulated and has many deep-pocketed special interests invested in the system not changing.

Dave Wendland

We all knew that Amazon was keen on dipping their toes into the healthcare landscape (and we’ve been anticipating it for quite some time). Make no mistake, this cannonball expansion will cause ripple effects across the industry and bring about much needed disruption.

Their approach of working with employers could certainly prove to be a lucrative point of entry giving them a pathway to becoming a preferred provider. I believe we will see MANY changes in the coming months.

Raj B. Shroff

Amazon Care, if done well, will definitely help soften any negative perceptions of Amazon. Care is the first step in some larger healthcare model and might even impact more proactive versus just reactive health. Ideally, they move the needle with insurance too, shifting it from employer-based to customer-based. If you could bundle health and other insurance with your Prime membership, and then carry it with you throughout your lifetime, that could be a great thing.

I think with Amazon, it seems less transactional. With the others, they are still very transaction-based dynamics in my view. And I think switching costs across that set will be much lower than with an Amazon that has a more holistic view of you, through Prime.

I love how these guys are disrupting industries and doing what these massive healthcare, insurance, space, and car companies could have done, but were too stuck in their ways and full of linear thinking to realize these possibilities.

Brandon Rael

An Amazon Care digital-first and accessible healthcare model may resonate and become a force to be reckoned with in 2022 and beyond. The democratization of the healthcare operating model is taking a customer-first strategy that will drive interest in this new offering in a world where consumers face so much friction and challenges in getting the healthcare they need.

Amazon will be relentless in cost-effectively delivering high-quality telehealth and in-person services. Amazon Care will quickly become a viable option in a healthcare industry that is ripe for disruption. The convenience and frictionless experiences matter in a world full of digital natives.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Ananda Chakravarty

Amazon has its work cut out for it. Healthcare clinics today are subject to tons of volatility, especially during flu season or a pandemic. This is Amazon going into a very different type of world and, more importantly for Amazon, the focus is not only on the healthcare portion of the services offered, but the full vertical view of healthcare that can allow it to compete with the CVSes and Walgreens of the world. Lastly, the healthcare clinic environment is much closer to brick-and-mortar than telehealth and digital interactions. Scheduling services will be challenging, and the customer is not seeking a digital solution, they want to stop their child’s coughing or have a broken ankle splinted. Finding nurse practitioners and healthcare workers, interfacing with healthcare insurance institutions, and addressing long lines for a vaccine are not in Amazon’s wheelhouse. Despite this, any change in this space is for the better and Amazon, if anyone, has the firepower to make a dent.

Ryan Mathews

Amazon’s goal is to create an unbreakable link to the consumer so what better avenue to explore than healthcare? If it works, it will make the brand as close to invincible as a brand can get. As to the approach it makes sense since it addresses two common healthcare consumer complaints. First, the form filling, general questioning, etc., can be more efficiently done via telehealth systems. That frees up for the facetime with physicians or nurse practitioners to focus on the patient as a human being. So the “boring” stuff is dealt with efficiently and patients feel that the medical professional is free to listen to them. Seems like a winner.

Shep Hyken

Amazon recognized the growth opportunity in healthcare and wellness quite a while ago. The writing is already on the wall. Any further efforts Amazon makes to build in this area should be fruitful. They have the technology and capabilities to make this work, probably better than most.

Jeff Sward

I feel very lucky to be part of a great health care system here in western Massachusetts. Great doctors and office personnel. But there is also no question that health care is as ripe for reinvention and evolution as retail (especially malls). First shoppers, and now patients, will benefit from Amazon challenging the status quo.

Rachelle King

There certainly is no shortage of need for health care services in some rural communities. If Amazon can reach and help these communities with quality care, then it’s a win for everyone. The expansion does not put them in meaningful competition with more established healthcare veterans like CVS and Walgreen’s but it is something to watch.

Robin Gaster

This is part of a much bigger conversation about Amazon and healthcare. It has enormous ambitions right across the healthcare stack, from wellness to infrastructure of hospitals and health care system. Most important in the long run, Amazon wants to become the gateway to the healthcare system via Alexa. See my article on Amazon and healthcare.

Anil Patel

For a long time, the medical business has been ripe for disruption, and I believe no one can do it better than Amazon. They are known for understanding customers’ wants and making their products relevant using massive amounts of data. From what I have noticed, they first test, analyze, and improvise the product with their employees, before deciding which one to scale. Amazon care, therefore, will have the potential to change customer behavior and will become the bare minimum standard of healthcare treatment.

There’s huge chaos and clutter in the medical industry, and I think only Amazon, with their technology and knowledge of product-market fit, can cut through that noise. Walgreens, Walmart might come up with similar initiatives but they would have to face the cannibalization of their existing products and revenue streams, and eventually, they would have to let go of one of the products. Moreover, it would not be easy to achieve the Amazon level of digital efficiency.

"As always, customer (or patient) obsession, tech mastery and omnichannel efficiency will differentiate Amazon from its rivals."
"Amazon’s goal is to create an unbreakable link to the consumer so what better avenue to explore than healthcare?"
"Ideally, they move the needle with insurance too, shifting it from employer-based to customer-based."

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