Amazon Care to close, ‘not a comprehensive enough offer’ for business customers – GeekWire

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Amazon Care is a hybrid virtual and home-based primary care service that launched in 2019. (Amazon Image)

Amazon will stop offering its Amazon Care primary healthcare services at the end of this year, according to an internal memo, after determining it was “not the right long-term solution for our business customers.”

Wednesday’s surprise move is a major course correction in Amazon’s broader foray into healthcare. Amazon says the decision only affects Amazon Care, not its other healthcare initiatives.

“This decision was not taken lightly and only became clear after several months of careful consideration,” Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services, said in the email. to employees of Amazon Health Services. “While our registered members loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it’s not a comprehensive enough offering for the large enterprise customers we’re targeting and wasn’t going to work long term.”

Amazon says company executives determined Amazon Care’s business model wasn’t working before and independently of its deal to acquire primary care company One Medical for $3.9 billion, which was announced July 21. This acquisition is still expected to proceed, pending regulatory approval.

Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services. (Photo LinkedIn)

The company did not disclose how many employees will be affected by its decision to shut down Amazon Care.

“Many Care employees will have the opportunity to join other parts of the health services organization or other Amazon teams – which we will be discussing with many of you shortly – and we will also be supporting employees seeking positions outside the company,” Lindsay wrote in the memo to employees.

Amazon Care was launched in 2019 as a pilot program for employees in the Seattle area, where Amazon is headquartered. Last year, it expanded to non-Amazon employees across the country.

It is a hybrid of virtual home primary care and urgent care services, with no physical clinics or physical locations.

Chrissy Farr, health technology investor at OMERS Ventures, said there may be a potential overlap with One Medical “that might have been difficult to navigate.” One Medical also sells to employers and offers telemedicine services.

“This could be a signal that Amazon plans to focus its energies on,” Farr said, noting that she didn’t have first-hand knowledge of the reasons for the decision.

Amazon has emerged as a leader in giant industries such as online shopping and cloud computing, but successfully transforming the “huge, struggling and tangled healthcare sector” won’t be easy, a recent Harvard analysis noted. Business Review which detailed the significant challenges facing the company’s foray. in primary care.

Given the size, complexity and potential of technology to further transform the healthcare market, the sector has emerged as one of the most likely industries where Amazon could find a fourth pillar of its business, alongside its three existing ones: Amazon Web Services, Amazon Prime, and Amazon Marketplace.

The company launched its Amazon Pharmacy service in November 2020, following its $753 million acquisition of mail-in prescription company PillPack in 2018.

Amazon is known for sticking to a long-term view while experimenting with different approaches to achieve its goals. In fact, Amazon Care isn’t Amazon’s first high-profile healthcare initiative to shut down. Last year, the company ended its Haven joint venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan Chase.

So far, Amazon Care seemed to be making steady progress.

  • In February, Amazon said in-person Amazon Care services would expand to 20 new cities in 2022. Companies such as Hilton, TrueBlue, Silicon Labs and others are using Amazon Care as an employee benefit.
  • Amazon was preparing to add behavioral health support to Amazon Care, Insider reported earlier this month, by partnering with mental health company Ginger as part of the expansion.
  • Speaking at a Wall Street Journal event last year, Amazon Care executive Babak Parviz said the company needed “thousands of employees” to help grow the service, and hinted that Amazon Care could expand to rural areas.
  • Amazon CEO Andy Jassy called out Amazon Care in his first letter to shareholders published in April.
  • The company said earlier this year that Amazon Care had a “patient satisfaction rating” of 4.7 out of 5. The Amazon Care app has a 4.9 rating on the Apple App Store and a 4.8 rating on Google Play.

Looking back, a clue to the decision may have come earlier this month: Kristen Helton, who was chief executive in charge of Amazon Care, was reported by Bloomberg News as taking an “extended hiatus.”

Last week, The Washington Post reported on tensions between Amazon and medical staff who questioned how the company balances growth and efficiency with traditional medical safeguards. The report also highlighted how the nationwide shortage of nurses has held back Amazon Care’s expansion.

A recent analysis from Trilliant Health shows that demand for telehealth declined nearly 60% from April 2020 to April 2022, “suggesting that the increased availability of virtual care options has not changed widespread consumer preferences.”

Amazon says Amazon Care patients can request copies of their medical records by emailing [email protected] or calling 1-855-594-6478. Amazon claims to comply with all laws applicable to patient medical records. The company says it will also work with corporate customers to meet their needs through the end of the year.

Here is the full text of Lindsay’s memo to employees.

The health services team,

We are working on an important mission opportunity. Our vision is to make it easier for people to access the healthcare products and services they need to get and stay healthy. We know it won’t be easy or quick, but we believe it’s important.

One of the ways we have worked towards this vision over the past few years has been with our urgent and primary care service offering, Amazon Care. During this time, we have collected and listened to extensive feedback from our corporate customers and their employees, and have evolved the service to continuously improve the customer experience. However, despite these efforts, we have determined that Amazon Care is not the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers and have decided to no longer offer Amazon Care after December 31, 2022.

This decision was not taken lightly and only became clear after several months of careful consideration. While our registered members have enjoyed many aspects of Amazon Care, it is not a comprehensive enough offering for the large enterprise customers we are targeting and was not going to work long term.

Our work building Amazon Care has deepened our understanding of what is needed over the long term to deliver meaningful healthcare solutions to businesses and individuals. You’ve heard me say this before, but I believe the healthcare space is ripe for reinvention, and our efforts to help improve the healthcare experience can have a hugely positive impact on our quality of lives and our health outcomes. None of these reasons, however, makes this decision any easier for the teams that helped build Amazon Care, or for the customers our Care team serves.

Our priority right now is to accompany you, whatever path you take. Many Care employees will have the opportunity to join other parts of the health services organization or other Amazon teams – which we’ll be discussing with many of you shortly – and we will also be supporting employees looking for positions outside the company.

To the Amazon Care and Care Medical teams, thank you for all your hard work over the past few years. You should be very proud of what this team has been able to accomplish in such a short time. I also thank our members and commercial customers for entrusting their care to us; it is not a responsibility we take lightly. As we learn from Amazon Care, we will continue to invent, learn from our customers and industry partners, and hold ourselves to the highest standards while helping to reinvent the future of Health care.

Sincerely,

Neil

Update: Timing of Babak Parviz comments corrected since posting.

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