Amazon Care: Building the Healthcare for Future One Step at a Time
The revolution is out in the open. The healthcare industry is experiencing massive disruption. For a few pioneers, it's not fast enough. While to others, it has been too much too fast. Considering the pace at which IT is merging with healthcare industry, soon the field of healthcare IT solutions will take a major leap and become commercial in no time.
The healthcare industry increasingly relies on software and technology solutions, which is why financial sponsors and corporate acquirers are flocking to healthcare IT (HCIT. The solutions that have stemmed out of this revolution in HCIT have started to move beyond just capturing patient data electronically and now harness that data in order to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs.
The US healthcare system is slowly but gradually shifting from fee-for-service model to a more value-based payment model; HCIT solutions overlapping with payers to advocate parity between the two groups. Companies and investors alike are implementing technology to bend the cost curve for delivering care.
As an example, CD&R acquired a majority stake in naviHealth, and Veritas portfolio company Verscend acquired Cotiviti for $4.9 billion. Both these companies provide IT solutions which are designed to help risk-bearing healthcare organizations use patient data to improve patient outcomes and reduce costs in value-based care settings.
How is Amazon stepping up the game in healthcare IT solutions
Amazon recently launched a virtual health clinic like in-home follow-ups aimed at employees in Seattle, called Amazon Care.
They had announced the program on a website, Amazon.care, which you will find is currently publicly accessible but they did not formally announce the news outside their company.
Amazon Care is a benefit being piloted for Amazon employees and their families in the Seattle area.
The news was first reported by CNBC. Amazon Care grew is the result of an initiative that was announced back in 2018 with J.P. Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway where they wanted to make a big change in how they all collectively handle their employee healthcare needs.
After hours of brainstorming, the companies announced at the time that they were eager to put together a solution aimed at being “free from profit-making incentives and constraints,” which, of course, are at the heart of private insurance companies serving corporate clients currently.
When it comes to providing employee benefits and compensations, Silicon Valley pioneers have already established norms that offer on-premise and remotely accessible healthcare services. The point where Amazon stands out is that Amazon Care is much more external-facing compared to others. They have a brand identity and presentation which strongly portrays the company is thinking about more than its own workforce when it comes to a future potential addressable market for Care.
How will this initiative benefit the individuals
Care’s website provides a look at the app which Amazon had developed for the telemedicine component, showing the flow for choosing between text chat and video, as well as a summary of care provided through the service, with invoices, diagnosis and treatment plans. These are all available for patients to review.
According to Amazon, the Care feature is an option as a “touch point,” that has the ability to handle things like colds, infections, minor injuries, preventative consultations, lab work, vaccinations, contraceptives and STI testing and general questions.
Amazon covers almost everything that would be handled by your general practitioner, before being recommended for any more specialist or advanced medical treatment or expertise.
Currently, those who are Amazon’s employees are eligible for the benefits and the ones who have enrolled in the company’s health insurance plan and who are located in the pilot service geographical area. Amazon Care is currently available between 8 AM and 9 PM local time, Monday through Friday, and between 8 AM and 6 PM on Saturday and Sunday.
This comes after Amazon had managed to acquire an online pharmacy startup, PillPack, for approximately $753 million last year in June. and that appears to be part of their core value proposition with Amazon Care, too, which features couriered prescribed medications and remotely communicated treatment plans.
Even though Amazon is limiting this pilot to employees at launch, looking at the highly publicized nature of their approach and the amount of product development that clearly went into developing the initial app, user experience and brand, all together indicate that it has the broader U.S. market in mind. Looking at it as a potential expansion opportunity down the line.