A surprise to many stakeholders, Amazon Health announced its plan to close Amazon Care at year’s end. According to a statement made on August 25, 2022, the Amazon telehealth service. The news was announced to Amazon Care employees just one month after Amazon’s $3.9B offer to purchase One Medical. It also followed a recent report of a rollout of Amazon Care’s partnership with Ginger, a leading telehealth employer. Amazon was reportedly also mid-stream in bids for other substantial acquisitions. The news of the Amazon telehealth shutdown sent competitor publicly traded telehealth stock prices soaring, including Teledoc, Amwell, and Hims & Hers Health.
Amazon & One Medical
On July 21, 2022, Amazon entered a merger agreement with One Medical, offering to buy a significant share in the primary care market. As reported in the One Medical 2022 Q1 results, the company already had 767,000 members at the end of March. With this acquisition, Amazon gained a strategic mix of virtual and brick-and-mortar clinics.
One Medical works with more than 8,000 companies and has clinics nationwide. In addition, One Medical’s Iora Health expands the healthcare offering to include a growing market of Medicare patients 65 and over.
Overview of Amazon Care
Amazon, the second largest private employer in the US, launched Amazon Care in 2019 as a health care offering for its employees. The company soon released Amazon Care to national corporations with plans to grow its telehealth and primary healthcare through employers across the country in ever-increasing rollouts.
Amazon Care was a complete hybrid healthcare system, offering flexibilities that are rarely found in traditional healthcare. It would have allowed employees to make virtual appointments with healthcare providers or arrange for house visits when needing screenings and vaccinations. Amazon needed to invest significant amounts to build an entire system, including clinics, hospitals, and health care workers.
What Happened to Amazon Care?
Rumblings of the struggle between the corporate productization of healthcare and the realities of clinical practice found their way into a Washington Post article a few days before the announced shutdown. In a piece titled, Amazon’s health ambitions sometimes clashed with medical best practices, nurses say, author Caroline O’Donavan on August 19 explained:
‘Amazon Care’ was treating patients long before the company bought One Medical, but its fast and frugal approach has proven a tough fit for some health professionals.
The article reviews the startup’s history, outlining challenges that one can reasonably expect from a multi-year, 50-state rollout, hiring an interprofessional team expected to work toward developing standard operating procedures for potentially lethal situations. Although the Amazon Care model may not have proven successful this year, well-funded industry innovators like Amazon are not likely to go away. Readers are encouraged to stay tuned to see how else this and other companies are attempting to disrupt the healthcare market.
Looking for Employment from Companies Like Amazon?
Clinicians seeking employment with healthcare industry disruptors are encouraged to obtain adequate telehealth training to identify key issues for working with online employers. Making responsible, legal, and ethical choices with online employers can involve more than meets the untrained eye.
Accepting Telehealth Jobs: 5 Big Legal & Ethical Mistakes to Avoid
Do you have questions about being employed or looking for employment from a digital health company? Online employment can pose dilemmas that leave clinicians at a loss for how to proceed. This program will answer your questions about how or reasonably uphold your legal and ethical mandates.