Health Services, Health Tech

Paging Dr. Amazon: Company rolls out telehealth service

Amazon launched a new healthcare service for its employees, dubbed Amazon Care. But the service seems poised to expand to a broader user base.

Amazon quietly unveiled a new healthcare service on Tuesday. Dubbed Amazon Care, the new service lets users chat with providers, receive mail-order prescriptions, and even receive in-home care, according to CNBC.

Amazon Care is currently limited to Amazon employees in the Seattle area. Amazon has shared few details about the service, but the company has already rolled out a new website and consumer-facing app that hint at future expansion plans.

Amazon is also hiring for a handful of positions related to the new service, including security engineers, UX designers and HR leaders. Job listings described Amazon Care as a “consumer healthcare product,” with the goal of “making high-quality healthcare easy to access.”

The current version of the app lets Amazon employees chat with a provider via text or make a video call. They can also have basic prescriptions delivered to their house, and have a nurse dispatched to their home to provide care or collect lab samples.

Amazon contracts with Oasis Medical Group to provide healthcare services. But unlike many other telehealth services, Amazon doesn’t bill through insurance.

Chatting with a provider through the app is free, while video calls or in-home visits have a single, upfront cost. But it doesn’t cover everything. Some lab tests and prescription costs would still be billed through insurance.

The launch appears to be yet another move by Amazon to enter the healthcare space. Last year, the company acquired mail order pharmacy company PillPack for $753 million, a move that could poise it as a competitor to PBMs.

In 2018, the leaders of Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway and J.P. Morgan announced they would team up on a new healthcare venture called “Haven.” Details on the venture are still sparse, but the group has said it would focus on making healthcare easier to access and more affordable, starting first with employees of the three companies.

“In time, we intend to share our innovations and solutions to help others,” Haven states on its website.

Amazon Care appears to be following a similar directive.

Photo credit: Flickr, Cerillion Skyline