- Amazon has launched a new program to connect consumers with chronic condition management services in the e-commerce giant’s latest healthcare initiative.
- The program, which went live Monday, surfaces eligible benefits for weight management, diabetes and other cardiometabolic conditions when users search Amazon for related devices, like a glucose monitor or blood pressure cuff.
- Amazon’s first partner for the marketplace, which it’s calling “health condition programs,” is chronic condition management company Omada Health. Amazon does plan to add more digital health companies and benefits to the site, but a spokesperson declined to share which companies are under consideration or a timeline for future announcements.
Amazon has made a handful of swings in the healthcare industry over the last few years. But the most successful initiatives have been those that connect consumers with care delivery options, as opposed to building out healthcare products and services itself.
The technology behemoth is relying on that strategy once again with health condition programs. The platform is meant to connect individuals with diabetes or other chronic conditions with management programs they could already be eligible for through their insurance at no additional cost to themselves.
Spokespeople for Amazon and Omada declined to disclose financial terms of the relationship, including whether Omada is reimbursing Amazon for directing consumers to its platform. But, given Amazon’s scale, the partnership could prove a valuable referral stream for the 12-year-old provider as chronic condition management companies continue to jockey for members.
Omada has access to over 20 million covered lives through its contracts with employers and health plans, but only one million members are enrolled in its products to date. As such, the Amazon deal should help extend Omada’s reach, Omada CEO Sean Duffy said in a press release on the deal.
Amazon does not disclose specific user numbers, but market sites estimate it has 310 million active users and more than 200 million paid Prime subscribers.
However, Amazon has reportedly struggled to convince its members to sign up for its healthcare programs like Amazon Pharmacy — despite measures to make the online pharmacy more attractive, like generics subscriptions and a Prime prescriptions savings benefit.
Amazon also has not shared publicly how many Prime members have signed up for One Medical, the primary care network Amazon acquired for $3.9 billion last year. In November, Amazon discounted One Medical membership for Prime users, likely in a bid to increase sign-ups.
Of its existing healthcare businesses, health condition programs is most similar to Amazon Clinic, Amazon’s online marketplace connecting users with third-party telemedicine providers. Since its launch, Amazon has taken the clinic nationwide, added video calls and expanded the conditions available for treatment. The e-commerce behemoth could follow that playbook for health condition programs. A spokesperson told Healthcare Dive that Amazon will “continue to expand the number of partners to offer more choice for customers.”
Health condition programs will likely be plagued by concerns of data privacy and security that have dogged Amazon Clinic. Last year, a Washington Post investigation found Amazon required Amazon Clinic users to sign away some HIPAA privacy protections in order to use the service.
According to a blog post about health condition programs, Amazon will share consumers’ information with provider partners like Omada to see if they’re eligible for the service. Omada will then tell Amazon whether a consumer was eligible and enrolled in the program, so that Amazon can “perform common healthcare operations” for Omada, like handling customer support questions.
Customers’ protected health data that’s shared with Amazon is protected by the HIPAA privacy law and will be secured accordingly, Amazon said.
With the new program, Amazon is capitalizing on the ongoing weight management craze spurred by the recent approval of efficacious GLP-1 drugs for weight loss. Medical experts say the drugs are most effective when paired with behavioral change programs like Omada’s, given that patients regain most (if not all) of lost weight after they stop using the drugs.