What’s really behind Amazon’s decision to shutter Amazon Care?
Amazon.com last week said it would stop offering its Amazon Care in-person and virtual health service at the year’s close, signaling a major reset amid its pending purchase of a line of primary care clinics.
In an internal memo last week, Amazon Health Services lead Neil Lindsay said, “Although our enrolled members have loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it is not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have been targeting, and wasn’t going to work long-term.”
He added that Amazon has a better understanding of “what’s needed long-term to deliver meaningful health care solutions for enterprise and individual customers.”
Launched in 2019 as a pilot for Seattle-based employees, the service provides virtual urgent care visits, as well as free telehealth consults and in-home visits for a fee from nurses for testing and vaccinations. Last year it expanded to non-Amazon employees nationwide, including introducing in-person services in at least seven cities and signing a few corporate clients, including Hilton, Silicon Labs and Amazon-owned Whole Foods.
The closing is surprising given plans announced in February to expand in-person Amazon Care services to 20 new cities in 2022.
The decision could be traced to the potential overlap with Amazon’s pending $3.9 billion acquisition of One Medical, a primary care organization that operates 188 clinics, has nearly 800,000 members and works with 8,000 companies.
The Washington Post last week reported on medical staffers quarreling with Amazon over prioritizing growth and efficiencies over traditional medical safeguards. A national nurse shortage was also seen straining Amazon Care’s expansion.
Trilliant Health reports that there has been a steep drop in telehealth visits since the pandemic’s start, with almost 80 percent of Americans solely pursuing in-person care in 2021.
To some, Amazon’s reassessment was a recognition of the complexities of healthcare, including competition from entrenched retailers, Walgreens and CVS, as well as another newbie, Walmart. A recent Harvard Business Review article stated, “While Amazon has tremendous financial resources, talent, IT skills, and patience — as well as a proven ability to turn economic sectors upside down — it faces enormous challenges in trying to create a new model for primary care in America’s huge, troubled, tangled health care sector.”
- Internal memo: Amazon Care to shut down, ‘not a complete enough offering’ for corporate customers – GeekWire
- Amazon is shutting down its telehealth service, Amazon Care – CNBC
- Amazon Care is shutting down at the end of 2022. Here’s why – Fierce Healthcare
- Amazon to shut down its telehealth offering – The Washington Post
- Amazon’s Foray into Primary Care Won’t Be Easy – Harvard Business Review
- Telehealth Demand Continues to Decline, Posing Challenges for Telehealth Providers and Policymakers – Trilliant Health
- Is Amazon on the verge of reinventing American healthcare? – RetailWire
- Amazon and One Medical Sign an Agreement for Amazon to Acquire One Medical – Amazon.com
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: What do you think is behind Amazon’s decision to shutter Amazon Care? How does Amazon’s or retail’s overall opportunity to transform healthcare appear to be evolving?