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Amazon Makes Third Attempt to Disrupt Healthcare Business

by | Dec 1, 2022

Having twice failed to disrupt health care, Amazon opts for a different strategy this time around—and it may just work.

“I’ll be back.”

That was Amazon’s parting message to employees and the market when it announced plans to shutter Amazon Care back in August. (See, “Amazon Ends Telehealth Services, but Forges Ahead with Healthcare Disruption,” LIR, August 30, 2022.) Having twice failed to disrupt health care, Amazon stated its determination to “continue to invent, learn from our customers and industry partners…as we further help reimagine the future of health care.” Now the Seattle-based e-commerce giant is rolling out a new healthcare venture. But instead of replicating traditional healthcare models the way its predecessors did, this new venture adheres more closely to the strategy that Amazon used to reconstruct the retail business.

The Amazon Clinic

Amazon’s dominance in retail is built on its capacity to connect directly with customers via virtual means. Stated simply, Amazon is really good at making it easy, inexpensive, and convenient for customers to get what they want from the marketplace. So, rather than construct its own provider network, this time Amazon is offering a direct-to-consumer service marketplace where customers can get the treatments they need via text or other digital messaging.

According to the new service’s website, Amazon Clinic 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. The way it works:

  • Customers choose a clinic online;
  • They then fill out an intake questionnaire;
  • A doctor or NP reviews their medical information from the questionnaire;
  • The customer receives a treatment plan that may include prescriptions or behavioral recommendations; and
  • Customers have access to their clinician for up to 14 days, at no additional cost, in case they have follow-up questions.

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. The healthcare service’s website adds, however, that “Amazon Clinic isn’t intended for individuals who receive coverage from federal or state healthcare payors.”

Amazon Clinic leverages the network of boutique primary care and telehealth physician practices that Amazon is in the process of acquiring via its $3.9 billion purchase of One Medical. The San Francisco-based firm, which defied the pandemic headwinds by going public in 2020, oversees 188 medical offices in 25 markets.

Amazon Clinic will be competing with other business offering virtual personalized treatment plans like Ro and Hims & Hers. Although it’s currently available in 32 states, Amazon Clinic expects to expand rapidly in the months to come.

References:

  1. https://www.g2intelligence.com/amazon-ends-telehealth-services-but-forges-ahead-with-healthcare-disruption/

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Here’s a summary of key strategic diagnostic deals announced in November 2022:

Strategic Alliances, Partnerships, & Collaborations

Partner 1Partner(s) 2+Deal Summary
Beckman Coulter Life Sciences (Danaher subsidiary)Pillar Biosciences• Objective: Develop new next-generation sequencing (NGS) solutions
• Dynamic: Pillar to develop applications for Beckman Coulter's Biomek NGeniuS System automated library preparation platform with applications developed to be available to all users via electronic application library
• Pillar to use system to develop applications for its portfolio of oncoReveal tests, which use Pillar's single-tube enrichment chemistry
IlluminaTwist Bioscience• Objective: Produce the co-branded Twist Bioscience for Illumina Exome 2.0 Plus panel for disease research use
• Dynamic: Twist to manufacture the Exome 2.0 Plus panel, which can be used on Illumina sequencers
• Panel to be sold by Illumina under the Illumina and Twist brands
COTAGoogle Cloud• Objective: Develop algorithms to apply natural language processing (NLP) technology to unstructured oncology data, including genomic sequencing test reports
• Dynamic: Technology will extract data from clinical notes, PDF reports, and other unstructured elements in electronic health records, then apply NLP and machine learning to create structure to make data computable for research and analytics
• Cota to use outputs from algorithms to augment manual abstraction that often misses key elements from genetic and other laboratory tests hidden in PDF files
NanoString TechnologiesAbcam• Objective: Comarket Abcam antibodies for NanoString's high-plex spatial multiomic solutions
• Dynamic: Abcam RabMAb recombinant antibodies to be commercialized as part of the first 64-plex protein panel for NanoString's CosMx Spatial Molecular Imager
• Human immuno-oncology panel is the first on the market to combine high-plex spatial proteomic and transcriptomic analyses at single-cell and subcellular resolution, the firms say
Oxford Nanopore Technologies10x Genomics• Objective: Develop workflows for single-cell and spatial full-length transcriptome sequencing
• Dynamic: Add Oxford Nanopore's PromethION sequencers, flow cells, and kits to 10x Genomics Compatible Partner Program
InvitaeAstraZeneca• Objective: Use Invitae’s Ciitizen natural history data platform in retrospective and prospective study of patients diagnosed with rare bile duct cancer called cholangiocarcinoma
• Dynamic: Partnership to facilitate sharing of data from Cholangiocarcinoma Foundation patient community
HTG Molecular DiagnosticsOmiCure• Objective: Use the HTG Transcriptome Panel to guide therapeutic decision-making for multiple cancer types
• Dynamic: Samples collected by Paris-based OmiCure to be sent to HTG's VERI/O lab for testing with the transcriptome panel
• Data from the test to be analyzed with OmiCure's AI-based platform Onco KEM and sent to healthcare providers
G42 HealthcareAsa Ren• Objective: Develop and promote genomic sequencing and bioinformatics in Indonesia
• Dynamic: Support Indonesia’s National Genomics Initiatives via use of microarray genotyping and whole-genome sequencing to create a genome biobank and NGS analytics pipeline
Genome InsightSeoul National University Hospital• Objective: Study whole-genome sequencing-based diagnosis for pediatric solid cancers
• Dynamic: Perform study to codevelop pediatric solid cancer WGS diagnostics workflow, including sample collection, multi-omic analysis, and clinical utilization, to improve accuracy of pediatric solid cancer diagnosis and treatment selection
• Genome Insight to provide bioinformatics support to offer clinical insights based on patient genomes and replace paper-based reports
Blu BiotechUniversity of Michigan and its Max Harry Weil Institute for Critical Care Research• Objective: Develop and seek regulatory approval for breath-based test for sepsis and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS)
• Dynamic: Licensing agreement allowing Blu Biotech to develop and commercialize a breath test instrument, called the Micro GC, based on university's gas chromatography photoionization detection technology
• Sepsis and ARDS test to be designed for the instrument
OwkinStanford Medicine• Objective: Apply AI to molecular and other data to inform drug discovery and ultimately improve lung cancer and mesothelioma treatment
• Dynamic: Combine Owkin’s expertise in AI with Stanford Medicine's high-quality multimodal patient data to support biomarker discovery as first step in therapeutic development
MetabolonParkinson's UK• Objective: Identify new metabolomic biomarkers of Parkinson's disease pathogenesis
• Dynamic: Metabolon to participate in observational and multi-center study to define biological and environmental factors for Parkinson's disease by analyzing the clinical expression of the condition in relation to genotypic variation
• Metabolon to help map metabolic changes in serum to clinical changes and genetic variants related to Parkinson's
Boditech MedSphingoTec• Objective: Develop and manufacture point-of-care tests for acute kidney injury using biomarker licensed from SphingoTec
• Dynamic: Nonexclusive, royalty-bearing agreement to allow Boditech Med to sell the tests for use on its worldwide AFIAS and ichroma installed base

Distribution, Sales, & Marketing Agreements

Product OwnerDistributorDeal Summary
Sense BiodetectionBio Nuclear Diagnostics• Products: Sense Veros COVID-19 point of care test
• Territory: Canada
• Nonexclusive
KDx DiagnosticsEmeritusDx• Products: KDx’s urine-based URO17 bladder cancer test
• Territory: US
NanomixMast Group• Products: Nanomix's eLab handheld electrochemical analyzer and infection panels
• Territory: UK, France, Germany, Ireland, South Africa
QuantuMDxA. Menarini Diagnostics• Products: QuantuMDx’s Q-POC point-of-care molecular diagnostics system and related tests, including SARS-CoV-2 assay and combination SARS-CoV-2, influenza A/B, and respiratory syncytial virus panel
• Territory: UK and France
• 5-year deal
Guardant HealthCodex Genetics• Products: Guardant Health's precision oncology tests, including Guardant360, Guardant Reveal, Guardant360 Response, and Guardant TissueNext genomic profiling panel
• Territory: Hong Kong and Macau
• Exclusive
Caris Life SciencesEverything Genetic• Products: Caris Life Sciences' MI Tumor Seek molecular profiling service
• Territory: UK
• Exclusive

Licenses

LicensorLicenseeDeal Summary
NuProbe USABio-Rad LaboratoriesBio-Rad gets exclusive license to NuProbe's Blocker Displacement Amplification technology for development of multiplexed digital PCR assays
Sherlock BiosciencesTolo BiotechCross-licensing deal under which Sherlock grants Tolo co-exclusive rights to Sherlock’s Cas13 CRISPR-based diagnostic method and Tolo grants Sherlock license to its Cas12 CRISPR-based diagnostic methods outside the US and greater China

Government Contracts

ContractorGovt. AgencyContract Summary
HologicU.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)$19 million contract for research and development aimed at gaining regulatory approval for COVID-19 test and combination respiratory test

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