CallieTroutman, MPH, MS, RDN, CHES, Associate Director, Behavioral Learning Strategy and Imre Varju MD, PhD, MPH, CHES, VP, Behavioral Learning Strategy at YuzuYello
Our authors have updated this thought leadership piece based on the latest Amazon healthcare news.
In its latest healthcare push, Amazon launches a generic drug subscription plan called RxPass. US Prime members in 42 states and who are not covered by Medicare or Medicaid can pay $5 a month for access to eligible discounted generic medications (prescription required). The list of medications covers over 80 chronic conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and anxiety.1
After a series of healthcare pursuits, Amazon decided to eliminate its primary healthcare business, Amazon Care, in August 2022.2 According to an internal memo, it was determined Amazon Care wasn’t “the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers.”3
In addition to Amazon Care, the company has explored various acquisitions PillPack, Health Navigator and One Medical) and partnerships (Berkshire Hathaway, JPMorgan Chase, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Center and Teladoc) to build its healthcare portfolio.4
January 2023: Amazon announced RxPass that gives Prime subscribers access to over 50 generic medications for $5/month.
August 2022: Amazon announced it would be shutting down Amazon Care for all employers by the end of the year.
Amazon Care – Behavioral Health:
August 2022 : Amazon announced partnership with digital mental health company Ginger.
Amazon Care - Primary Care:
July 2022: Amazon announced acquisition of primary care provider One Medical.
Amazon Care - At home visits:
February 2022: Amazon announced at-home care services are expanding to more than 20 new cities (see below) in 2022, bringing even more care options to Amazon Care’s growing customer base.
Amazon Care - Telehealth:
Launched in 2019 as a telehealth provider to Amazon employees. In 2021, they extended the service to all Washington state businesses and now has been expanded nationwide to other companies.
In November 2021, Amazon announced they will provide all Hilton employees access to Amazon Care.
May 2021: Amazon announced they will be making at-home Covid-19 testing kits and will possibly expand to other respiratory infections.
November 2020: Amazon announced two new pharmacy offerings for customers to purchase medications:
Amazon Together / Amazon Care Hub:
Alexa is a HIPAA compliant device which opens the door to healthcare applications.
November 2020: Alexa Care Hub, a service meant “to help aging customers maintain independence and provide assurance to family members.” It ties two Echo Dots, Echo Shows, or other Echos together so families could check on elderly loved ones at any time.
September 2021: Alexa Care Hub was rolled into Alexa Together- a subscription service that includes features like:
These launches and announcements follow the Amazon acquisition of PillPack in 2018.
As with everything Amazon does, their goal (and headline) is: Healthcare Made Easy. As of last summer, around 40,000 people were enrolled in Amazon Care, most of which were Amazon employees, but it’s expected with 2022 expansions, this number will greatly increase as enrollment has been expanded beyond Amazon.5
In 2019, Amazon created their own telehealth platform for Amazon employees. Was this a test for them to see how they can compete in the telehealth market? To work out any kinks in a protected space? And they didn’t partner with one of the major telehealth companies, rather they built their own platform. And it’s built to meet various needs of the users.
There are 2 main parts to the service:
1) Virtual Care, which connects patients to medical professionals via the Amazon Care app (available for both Android and iOS) and allows patients to quickly, conveniently, and confidently chat live with a nurse or doctor, via in-app messaging or video.4
2) In-person care, where Amazon Care can dispatch a medical professional to a patient’s home for additional care, ranging from routine blood draws to listening to a patient’s lungs, and also offer prescription delivery right to a patient’s door.6
If the patient is in a market that has at-home services and they require an in-person visit with a provider, Amazon Care deploys a mobile clinician who shows up at the user’s door typically in 60 minutes...according to Amazon. The service also can deliver medications to users within 120 minutes.7
At-Home Locations Expected By the End of 2022 Include:
Often times with telehealth, it feels the objective of the service is just convenience. But Amazon is going further - focusing on the whole patient - and addressing what has felt like a void in recent medical interventions.
On the website, you can watch a video to hear their mission as told by their practitioners.
Amazon also is a major player and supports 9 of the 10 top pharma with their AWS platform. With over 130 HIPAA-eligible services, they support pharma throughout the drug development and commercialization process. But that’s a POV for another day!8
As will all telehealth providers, patients are by-passing HCP offices. HCPs may not be detailed and we have less opportunities to reach patients at the point of care. But remember, a patient may use telehealth for one indication, but can certainly show up in the doctor’s office for a different indication.
So as always, pharma needs to be where the patient is. Whether that’s digital, out of home or at the pharmacy. And provide them with the tools, resources and support to get the best possible outcomes.
1 Amazon deepens healthcare push
3 Internal memo: Amazon Care to shut down
7 Amazon Care inks deal with several companies