Amazon’s telehealth service (which was first announced in 2019)—dubbed Amazon Care—will reportedly be expanded in 2022 to a total of 20 major cities in the US. Could this be the future of all healthcare? The service, first trialled with Amazon employees in Seattle in 2019, has grown exponentially since its introduction.
For those of you who are unsure of exactly what it entails, here’s a breakdown: Amazon Care is essentially a telehealth service. It operates virtually via a mobile app, allowing its users to make online doctor appointments, get prescriptions and even arrange in-house doctor visits. Basically rather than spending endless hours in a waiting room, the doctor comes to you. Or in Amazon’s case, to its employees, so they waste as little of their working hours as possible.
Amazon Care writes on its website, “Healthcare made easy. Skip the waiting room and start a virtual primary or urgent care visit from the comfort of your home.” Aside from in-house visitations, virtual healthcare is accessible in a matter of “seconds” with online visits available “7 days a week and 365 days a year.” Don’t worry though, Bezos isn’t just picking up any old doctor off the street, the professional medical staff available via the app are sourced through Care Medical, a clinical provider network.
While first only offered to Amazon employees, the tech giant later opened up the telehealth app to employers around the US for their own workforces. However, the specific in-house service option was still only available to Amazon’s own employees, primarily in the state of Washington and those in the area of Seattle. Since then, the company announced in March 2021 that it would be expanding the in-house visit option to other cities in the US, with no indication of which cities would be on the list.
According to an exclusive Insider report, the shopping giant is looking to expand its in-person healthcare to 16 more locations in 2022; according to Insider’s anonymous sources, the US areas listed for future Amazon Care are: Atlanta, Denver, Detroit, Houston, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Missouri, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, Nashville, Tennessee, New York, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, San Francisco, San Jose, California and St. Louis.
Currently, Amazon Care is reported to have over 40,000 users. Although a majority are Amazon employees, the service and its availability to other US employees could create a major shift in healthcare in the US. And while restrictions around the pandemic have seemed to ease in the past few months, it looks like telehealth services might be here to stay. According to Insider Intelligence research, telehealth usage figures are still significantly higher in comparison to pre-pandemic numbers—forecasting that by 2025, telehealth consumers could make up 38.9 per cent of the US population.
This latest reported expansion (which has not yet been publicly confirmed by the company) could be paving the way for an interesting change for medical care in the US. But for now we’re in the waiting room: time will tell whether this is a turning point in the future of technology-assisted, corporate-driven medical care.