Amazon Launches Virtual Clinic to Help Its Employees Get Healthcare

Amazon has created a new service where its employees can get treatment and advice for non-emergency health issues, according to a website the tech giant recently brought online.

Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) says the program, Amazon Care, combines telemedicine services, in-person visits with licensed clinicians, and prescription medication delivery. Amazon Care is currently “being piloted for Amazon employees and their families in the Seattle area,” where the company is based, according to the website.

The new service is part of Amazon’s push to deepen its footprint in the healthcare industry. Other healthcare-focused moves by the company include its mid-2018 acquisition of Pillpack, a Boston-area online pharmacy startup, reportedly for close to $1 billion. Amazon is also co-leading a joint venture called “Haven” with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM). The venture is aimed at reducing the cost of healthcare for their US workforces.

According to the Amazon Care website, the service is, for now, only available to Amazon employees who reside in one of 61 Seattle-area ZIP codes. Participation also requires the person to be enrolled in an Amazon health insurance plan, the company says.

One pillar of Amazon Care is telemedicine. Patients enrolled in the program can use the Amazon Care mobile app to chat with clinicians and set up “video visits” to get information about health problems they’re experiencing: colds, rashes, and allergy symptoms, for example.

If a user feels concerned enough about the condition to seek an in-person examination, he or she can request to have a “mobile care” nurse dispatched to the user’s residence or workplace, Amazon says. The company has partnered with Seattle-based Oasis Medical Group to provide both in-person services and virtual care, through the Amazon Care app, the company says.

Amazon employees who participate in the program can also receive routine health maintenance services, such as vaccines, lab work, contraception, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases, according to the Amazon Care website.

The company is also offering prescription delivery to employees’ homes and offices as part of the program.

Amazon Care’s current service hours are from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. on weekdays, and 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

CNBC was first to report, in August 2018, that Amazon planned to open its own health clinics for employees.

Amazon Care joins a growing list of offerings from technology companies to connect patients with clinicians and provide them with on-demand health advice.

Another chat-based service is Buoy Health, a startup headquartered in Boston which last year formed a partnership with CVS Health (NYSE: CVS) aimed at making it simple for some patients who use Buoy’s app or website to get checked out at one of the 1,100 healthcare clinics that CVS’s subsidiary MinuteClinic operates across the United States.

CVS is also working with Teladoc (NYSE: TDOC), a New York-based healthcare software company, to expand the reach of Teladoc’s telehealth services.

Meanwhile, other large tech firms, such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT), have been making healthcare-related moves lately. In January, Microsoft announced a seven-year agreement with Walgreens to establish store-based “digital health corners” to display healthcare-related devices and gadgets, some underpinned by Microsoft technology.

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