Last August, Amazon stunned its employees and the market by announcing plans to shutter its Amazon Care venture. (See, “Amazon Ends Telehealth Services, but Forges Ahead with Healthcare Disruption,” LIR, August 30, 2022.) It was Amazon’s second failed attempt to replicate what it did in retail within the realm of health care. But Amazon declared that it wasn’t giving up and that it would “continue to invent, learn from our customers and industry partners…as we further help reimagine the future of health care.”
Now the Seattle-based ecommerce giant is rolling out a new healthcare venture. But this time it’s sticking to basics and leveraging the company’s greatest strength: the capacity to connect directly with customers via virtual means so that they can get what they want from the marketplace with maximal ease and convenience and minimal cost. Rather than constructing its own provider network the way it tried before, Amazon is leveraging its existing primary care outservice partners, including those obtained via the recent $3.9 billion One Medical acquisition, to offer a direct-to-consumer service marketplace where customers can get the treatments they need via text or other digital messaging.
Called Amazon Clinic, the new venture uses a secure portal to give patients in 32 states virtual access to outsourced US-based doctors and nurse practitioners (NPs) who can offer personalized treatments and prescriptions for more than 20 different medical conditions ranging from hair loss to headaches. There’s no video or audio interaction, other than the photos some patients may have to send to document their conditions.
Customers pay a flat fee for services, with costs varying by clinic and treatment. Amazon contends that costs, typically $30 to $40 per consultation, are often less than the co-pays that customers would have to make if they had to use their doctor. Of course, there are also no waiting rooms. The fee doesn’t cover the costs of medications.
Although health insurance isn’t accepted, customers can submit their Amazon Clinic receipts to their health insurer for reimbursement. Amazon Clinic also accepts health savings accounts and flexible account debit cards. An online treatment page enables customers to compare costs. Customers can also have their prescriptions filled at a pharmacy of their choice.
Find out more on this and other recent developments in the diagnostics industry in the full article in our December 2022 Laboratory Industry Report.