Health Tech, Telemedicine

At HLTH, Amazon confirms plans to bring hybrid care model to new markets

The online retailer confirmed plans to bring Amazon Care to Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, Boston and Los Angeles, to name a few.┬áBut it’s still not clear how many other employers are buying into its telehealth and in-home care service.

After building a virtual care service for its employees, Amazon is in the midst of a broader expansion, looking to offer it to other companies as a covered benefit. At HLTH, Amazon Care Director Dr. Kristen Lloyd Helton confirmed plans to expand into several new markets, including Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Dallas and Los Angeles.

“Employers want to retain their talent. They’re very invested in health and safety,” she said. “We’re also looking at outcomes. We want to make sure the services we provide are improving health, but also eventually lowering costs.”

Amazon Care includes virtual primary care and urgent care visits. It also offers limited in-home services, such as vaccinations, STI testing, and treatment for minor injuries, such as bug bites and scrapes.

Amazon opened the service to other companies in Washington State earlier this year, and has since expanded to Washington D.C., Baltimore, and Arlington, Virginia. According to a report by Insider last month, Amazon Care aims to be in 20 major cities by 2022.

It’s still not clear how many other companies have adopted Amazon Care as a covered benefit, and Helton didn’t elaborate on this.

Of course, Amazon faces plenty of competition, as telehealth companies saw record growth in the last two years, and plenty of other businesses have launched their own virtual care services. Moderator Bertha Coombs of CNBC asked Helton what makes Amazon Care’s services different. She chalked it up to the company’s ability to transition between virtual and in-person care.

“In doing that, we’re building (patients’) trust that we’re going to solve whatever problem they have. It gives them the confidence to start virtual and know we will take them through that entire journey and deliver great care,” Helton said.

But Amazon isn’t the only company building a hybrid model. Retailers CVS and Walgreens are also taking a closer look at in-home care, whether through CVS broadening its home infusion services or Walgreens offering it through its primary care partner, VillageMD. Digital health companies, as they merge and grow their services, are also increasingly looking at the home, with Included Health (the merger of Doctor on Demand and Grand Rounds) also commenting on extending into patients’ communities and homes.

Going forward, Helton said Amazon Care’s additions will be based on listening to what patients want, such as self-scheduling options and the inclusion of primary care. As for how Amazon’s separate health efforts will fit together, including its new pharmacy business, she said, “those points of interface may happen later in the roadmap.”

Photo credit: Flickr, Cerillion Skyline