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After Amazon Care shut down, Amazon returns to telehealth with Amazon Clinic, a marketplace for third-party virtual consultants • londonbusinessblog.com

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The ink hasn’t dried up on Amazon’s $4 billion acquisition of OneMedical, but in the meantime, the online services giant is taking another step under its own steam into telehealth and medical services in general. The company is taking the wraps from . today Amazon Clinicwhich Amazon describes as a virtual health store: users can search for, connect to, and pay for telehealth, addressing various conditions that are popular with telehealth consultations today.

Amazon Clinic will initially launch in 32 states in the US. It doesn’t work with health insurance and this point, and the overall pricing is dependent on providers, terms and location. (For example, connecting to a clinic for: acne treatment in Nevada costs about $40, and you get a choice of two providers whose different offers are listed in a comparative table. Another example, for pink eye (conjunctivitis) in New Jerseyhas a wider price gap between $30 and $48 between the two providers listed.)

Amazon Clinic appeared to be leaking about a week ago when users spotted a video on YouTube that was then quickly removed when the media caught the attention. Now it is officially launched, and at a critical time.

It’s only been a few months since Amazon shut down Amazon Care, a telehealth service that created it for its own employees before ramping up plans to launch it nationwide and for outside companies. And more broadly, the company, like many others in the tech sector, is feeling the economic slump. It is reportedly gearing up for a big round of layoffs, possibly 10,000 jobs and possibly this week; and in addition it has downsized and reduced some of its activities.

Amazon Clinic is about the company making another attempt at the healthcare market, positioning itself as a player in what is a perennial problem in the US: how to bridge the gap between people who need medical care for conditions more complicated than a travel to the drug store, but may not justify expensive and time-consuming trips to the doctor.

(Other conditions besides acne and pink eye include asthma refills, birth control, cold sores, dandruff, eczema, erectile dysfunction, eyelash growth, genital herpes, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), hay fever, hyperlipidemia refills, hypertension refills, hypothyroidism refills, hair loss in men, migraines, sinusitis, smoking cessation, urinary tract infections (UTIs), yeast infections and so on.)

Clinic is very much built in the Amazon mold. It’s a marketplace where third parties can use Amazon’s platform and reach to find customers, and Amazon can use third parties to quickly scale what its consumers have to offer. And it helps Amazon expand the business funnel for other Amazon operations — in this case Amazon Pharmacy, which can meet all the regulations coming out of clinic consultations, and has reportedly not been as big a business boom as expected. . (Users can also fill out Amazon Clinic scripts in other pharmacies.)

We asked Amazon if it plans to partner with third parties to provide its own in-house (private label, in e-commerce parlance) telehealth consulting, and what plans are for other states, if there are international ambitions and or it accept health insurance for Clinic in the future. It may well lay the groundwork for Amazon to tie what it’s building here with OneMedical when that acquisition closes.

The bigger picture for Amazon Clinic is that the service fits in with Amazon’s larger ambitions in the healthcare market. The company already has an online pharmacy, Amazon Pharmacy, that handles subscriptions and lets users purchase additional over-the-counter medications through Prime memberships that ship the items within two days.

Amazon also believes its new telehealth service is filling a gap in the market to provide users with health consultations for more minor ailments. Some situations require more direct involvement from a physician, which may be covered by One Medical or one’s existing health care coverage; some situations can be addressed by visiting a pharmacy on your own.

“But we also know that sometimes you just need a quick interaction with a doctor for a common health problem that can be easily addressed virtually,” the company noted in its blog post announcing the service.

Amazon has been making progress for a number of years and has ambitions in healthcare. Amazon Pharmacy was launched after the PillPack acquisition. And it explores healthcare as a business opportunity, with Alexa integrations into healthcare environments.

But Amazon Care isn’t the only step back it’s taken in its longer journey. In 2018, it formed a joint venture with JP Morgan and Berkshire Hathaway to build an employee health care organization, appointing a leading physician to lead it. That service never seemed to take shape as expected and kept the store shut in 2021.

We will update this piece as we learn more.


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