This Just In... Amazon Cancels Amazon Care

CallieTroutman, MPH, MS, RDN, CHES, Manager, 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 enhancements Amazon has made to Amazon Care.

After announcing plans to acquire One Medical for almost $4B, and diving into mental health with the purchase of Ginger, Amazon has decided to eliminate its healthcare business because corporate customers weren’t seeing its value.1 This news comes after Amazon has been building the telehealth and brick and mortar business for several years (see detailed timeline below). According to the internal memo, it was determined Amazon Care wasn’t “the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers.”2

“This decision wasn’t made lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration,” said Neil Lindsay, Amazon Health Services senior vice president, in the email to Amazon Health Services employees. “Although our enrolled members have loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it is not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have been targeting, and wasn’t going to work long-term.”2

The Amazon Road to Healthcare

Map of healthcare at Amazon includes 2022 with Amazon Care at home visits, 2021 with Amazon Care telehealth, 2020 with Amazon Pharmacy and Amazon Diagnostics, and 2018 with PillPack, Amazon Care Hub and Amazon Together

Amazon Care:
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​.

Amazon Diagnostics:​
May 2021: Amazon announced they will be making at-home Covid-19 testing kits and will possibly expand to other respiratory infections. ​

Amazon Pharmacy:​
November 2020: Amazon announced two new pharmacy offerings for customers to purchase medications:​

  • Amazon Pharmacy: a new store on Amazon that allows customers to purchase medications, manage insurance prescriptions.​
  • Prime Rx: Prime members who do not have insurance can save money at both the Amazon pharmacy as well as at over 50,000 other participating pharmacies nationwide.​

​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:​

  • If a senior says, “Alexa, call for help,” Amazon will connect them to someone who can can get them help or call an ambulance​.
  • Fall detection: Alexa Together includes fall detection devices from Vayyar and SkyAngelCare. If a person falls while wearing a device, a message is sent through the Echo to the Urgent Response team​.

​PillPack: ​
These launches and announcements follow the Amazon acquisition of PillPack in 2018.
 

What is Amazon Care?

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.3

​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
 

An inside look at Amazon Care Telehealth. Text reads saving you time and effort, your easy button for healthcare. With the click of a button, we'll ask a few questions to quickly direct you to the right level of care. A screenshot of a phone includes a Start a Visit button with text bubbles that read I'm stressed, it's time for my flu shot, I need a prescription, and I think I might need a COVID-19 test.

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.4
 

Photo of a doctor in scrubs visiting a patient in their home, sitting at a dining table and talking in masks.

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.5

At-Home Locations Expected By the End of 2022 Include:
 

A map of the United States. Highlighted locations include Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Pittsburg, Indianapolis, Miami, Nashville, Atlanta, St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, Houston, Denver, Phoenix, Los Angeles, San Jose and San Francisco,

Community, Accessibility, Empathetic Care​

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.
 

Screenshots of talking heads and captions. First says Trying to make healthcare easier for all of us. Second says Obsessing about the customer experience, third says person-to-person care, fourth says providing empathy, fifth says we care deeply about our patients, sixth says I'm going to be there for you.

Amazon Web Services is Also Powering the Pharma Industry​

​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!6
 

Security and compliance components that include research and development, clinical development, manufacturing and supply chain, commercial, and post-market surveillance and patient support

What Does This Amazon Care Mean for Pharma? ​

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 Shuts Amazon Care

2 Internal memo: Amazon Care to shut down

3 Amazon to add 20 cities

4 Amazon press release

5 Amazon Care inks deal with several companies

6 AWS for life sciences