Amazon Care To End Just Months After Touting Big Virtual And In-Person Health Services Expansion

Amazon Care is shutting down at the end of this year, several media outlets are reporting onAug. 24, … [+] 2022. IN this photo is a close-up of sign with logo on facade of the regional headquarters of ecommerce company Amazon in the Silicon Valley town of Sunnyvale, California, October 28, 2018. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

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Amazon Care is shutting down later this year just months after the online retailer said it was expanding in-person healthcare services to more than 20 new cities in 2022.

In February, Amazon’s Amazon Care said the rollout of new virtual services that include nurse home visits will be “throughout 2022” and are already available in Seattle, Baltimore, Boston, Dallas, Austin, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va.

But reports emerged Wednesday in the technology publication GeekWire and later other news outlets, which cited an internal memo saying Amazon Care wasn’t “the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers.” Amazon Care “will stop offering its Amazon Care primary health-care services at the end of this year,” the report said.

“This decision wasn’t made lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration,” Neil Lindsay, Amazon Health Services senior vice president, said in an email to Amazon Health Services employees that was reported by GeekWire, the New York Times and other outlets. “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.”

The news was a big surprise, considering Amazon has been looking to expand its healthcare businesses and last month announced plans to spend nearly $4 billion to acquire One Medical, which offers in-person and virtual primary care services. Speculation has also emerged that Amazon may be bidding on other healthcare companies, including the home care company Signify Health.

Amazon couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Amazon Care launched in 2019 largely as a service for the company’s Seattle employees with an expansion to Washington state employees in 2020. The expansion continued in 2021 to other markets in the U.S.

Amazon Care services include access to virtual clinicians 7 days a week with Amazon Care’s in-person care service having the ability to bring healthcare into the home. “When in-person care is needed, a nurse is dispatched to the patient’s home,” the company says.

It’s unclear what the abrupt end of Amazon Care will mean to Amazon’s effort to enter the primary care business going forward. Amazon’s proposed acquisition of One Medical comes during a period of unprecedented competition for primary care doctor practices with Walgreens opening hundreds of physician-staffed clinics with partner VillageMD while Walmart launches its doctor-staffed clinics under the Walmart Health brand in several new markets. Meanwhile, CVS Health, which has long staffed its more than 1,100 in-store clinics with nurse practitioners is also rolling out more primary care models that include physicians.

Now, some are doubting whether Amazon knows what it’s doing in healthcare.

“Amazon’s decision to throw in the towel must come as a shock to many who believed that a consumer focus backed by strong analytical capabilities can bring success to Amazon,” Paddy Padmanabhan, founder and chief executive of Damo Consulting, which works with health and technology companies. “Coming close on the heels of the One Medical acquisition, it must mean something went wrong in the calculus. The decision to shut down Amazon Care is unexpected and will raise a lot of questions about whether the OneMedical deal will even go through or whether Amazon will choose to cancel the deal,”

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Life Sciences, Forbes – Healthcare

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