- Amazon has launched a message-based virtual health service called Amazon Clinic a little more than two months after the retail giant shuttered its primary care delivery business Amazon Care.
- Amazon Clinic, which is currently live and available 24/7 through Amazon’s website and mobile app, is a marketplace for telemedicine providers, connecting consumers with virtual doctors who can diagnose, treat and prescribe medication for a range of common health conditions like acne, birth control and migraines, the retail giant said.
- Amazon Clinic will be available in 32 states at launch, with plans to expand to additional states in the coming months, according to a Tuesday blog post announcing the news.
Amazon has big ambitions in the healthcare industry, though many high-profile ventures from the $470 billion company have sputtered in the face of entrenched business models or lack of adoption from potential clients in the sector.
In August, Amazon announced it was closing down Amazon Care by the end of the year, saying corporate customers weren’t seeing the value of the product. The end of that business mirrored that of Haven, a effort by large employers, including Amazon, to lower healthcare costs for their employees that shut down in 2021 after a three years in operation.
Yet Amazon has grown to include wearable devices, an online pharmacy and a primary care provider, with its $3.9 billion One Medical buy.
Now, Amazon is doubling down on low-touch virtual care with its newest venture: a healthcare store allowing customers to choose from a network of telehealth providers and connect with a licensed physician for a message-based consultation and, if needed, medication prescription.
In a blog post, Nworah Ayogu, Amazon Clinic’s chief medical officer, said Amazon Pharmacy and One Medical are “two key ways” that Amazon is “working to make care more convenient and accessible.”
“But we also know that sometimes you just need a quick interaction with a clinician for a common health concern that can be easily addressed virtually,” Ayogu said.
According to the blog, Amazon Clinic users select their condition, then choose their preferred provider from a list of telehealth vendors.
Patients complete an intake questionnaire, then chat with a clinician via a message-based portal. There are no video capabilities. Afterward, the clinician will send a personalized treatment plan via the portal, including any necessary prescriptions. Amazon said it would send prescriptions to the patients’s preferred pharmacy, whether that’s Amazon Pharmacy or another supplier.
Consultation cost will vary by provider, including follow-up messages with a clinician for up to two weeks after the consultation. Consultations start at $30.
Amazon Clinic does not accept insurance. The company didn’t disclose whether that would change in the future.
Amazon has had some success with virtual care in the past, even as its efforts to deliver in-person care fell short. Before closing, Amazon Care, a hybrid primary care program for employers, had expanded its virtual care delivery side nationwide, but its in-person benefit dispatching nurse practitioners to patients’ homes, lagged over scaling difficulties in a tight labor market.
Amazon is not yet saying publicly which telemedicine providers will be included in the marketplace. The company does have an existing relationship with Teladoc, the biggest virtual care company in the U.S. In March, the two partnered to enable access to virtual care visits with Teladoc providers through Amazon’s Alexa devices.