The ink isn’t dry yet on Amazon’s $4 billion acquisition of OneMedical, but in the meantime, the online services giant is making another move into telehealth and general medical services, on its own. . The company is today unveiling Amazon Clinic, which Amazon describes as a virtual healthcare “storefront”: users can search, connect and pay for telehealth care, addressing a variety of conditions that are among the most popular for telehealth consults. today.
Amazon Clinic is initially launching in 32 states in the US. It doesn’t work with health insurance and this point, and the overall price will vary depending on providers, conditions, and location. (An example: Getting in touch with an acne treatment clinic in Nevada will cost about $40, and you will be able to choose between two providers whose different offerings are provided in a comparison table. Another example, for pink eye (conjunctivitis ) in New Jersey, has a larger price gap of $30 to $48 between the two providers listed.)
Amazon Clinic appeared to leak about a week ago when users stained a YouTube video which was then quickly taken down when the media got attention. It is now about to be officially launched and at a critical time.
It’s only been a few months since Amazon shut down Amazon Care, which had been a telehealth service built for its own employees before ramping up plans to roll it out nationwide and to third-party companies. And more generally, the company, like many others in the technology sector, is feeling the effects of the economic crisis. He’s reportedly preparing to make a big round of layoffs, potentially 10,000 jobs and possibly this week; and in addition to that it has scaled back and reduced some of its operations.
Amazon Clinic talks about the company taking another step into the healthcare market and positioning itself as a player in what is a perpetual problem in the United States: how to bridge the gap between people who need medical care for ailments more complicated than a trip to the drugstore, but may not justify costly and time-consuming trips to the doctor.
Other conditions it will cover besides acne and pink eye include refills of asthma, birth control, cold sores, dandruff, eczema, erectile dysfunction, eyelash growth, genital herpes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hay fever, hyperlipidemia refills, hypertension refills, hypothyroidism refills, male pattern hair loss, migraines, sinusitis, smoking cessation, urinary tract infections (UTIs), yeast infections, and so on.
The clinic is very much built in the Amazon mold. It’s a marketplace where third parties can leverage Amazon’s platform and reach to find customers, and Amazon can leverage third parties to rapidly scale offers to its consumers. And it helps Amazon extend the business funnel for other Amazon operations, in this case Amazon Pharmacy, which can fill any prescription that comes out of clinic consultations and has reportedly not had as big a business boom as expected. (Users can compile Amazon Clinic scripts at other pharmacies as well.)
We asked Amazon if it intends to provide its own internal (private label, in e-commerce parlance) telehealth consultancy with third parties, and what plans are in place for other states, if there are any international ambitions and if it will accept the health insurance for the Clinic in the future. It may be that this is laying the groundwork for Amazon to connect what it’s building here with OneMedical when the acquisition closes.
The bigger picture for Amazon Clinic is that the service will be part of Amazon’s larger ambitions in the healthcare market. The company already has an online pharmacist, Amazon Pharmacy, which caters to subscriptions and allows users to purchase additional over-the-counter medications through Prime memberships that ship items within two days.
Amazon also believes its new telehealth service fills a gap in the market for providing users with healthcare consultations for minor ailments. Some situations require more direct medical involvement, which may be covered by One Medical or your existing health coverage; some situations could be addressed by visiting a pharmacy on your own.
“But we also know that sometimes you just need a quick interaction with a doctor about a common health problem that can be easily fixed virtually,” the company noted in its blog post announcing the service.
Amazon has been making inroads and exposing its ambitions in healthcare for several years. Amazon Pharmacy launched after the PillPack acquisition. And explored healthcare as a business opportunity, with Alexa integrations in healthcare environments.
But Amazon Care isn’t the only step backwards in its long journey. In 2018, she formed a joint venture with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to build an employee healthcare operation, appointing a high-profile physician to lead it. That service never seemed to take shape as expected and closed its doors in 2021.
We will update this piece as we learn more.