Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) has launched a new virtual care clinic, which will give employees access to telehealth and in-home care, according to CNBC. While public details are relatively sparse, the move potentially sets Amazon up for a broader expansion down the road.
The goal of the pilot program — called Amazon Care — is to give Seattle-area Amazon employees and their dependents “fast access to healthcare without an appointment, at the convenience of their schedules, at their preferred location (home, office, or virtual),” a spokesperson told the news outlet.
Broadly, a “dependent” has to be on an eligible health plan provided by Amazon and also within a participating zipcode of the pilot. If an aging parent or grandparent fits that criteria, he or she may be eligible to receive services under the pilot, a spokesperson explained to Home Health Care News.
When employees need to see a doctor, Amazon Care will put them in touch with a physician or nurse practitioner via live chat or video. Employees also have the option to receive in-home follow up visits and have prescriptions delivered to their door, according to the newly created Amazon.care website.
The clinic can help employees with colds, allergies, infections, vaccines, STI testing and more.
“The company appears to have contracted with a provider called Oasis Medical, which could help ensure that Amazon will not have knowledge of employees’ health conditions,” CNBC reported. “Oasis is a separate legal subsidiary from Amazon, the parent company.”
While Amazon Care is currently only available through the pilot program to employees in the Seattle area, the company hinted that it hopes to expand the service in the future depending on observed interest. Amazon has several other benefits available to employees, most of which started in similar pilot scenarios.
“The benefit is currently in pilot form for a population of employees in the Greater Seattle area and we’re looking forward to helping build and scale the benefit to meet the needs of more employees in the months and years ahead,” according to information about the program that Amazon sent employees.
Amazon, of course, has been rumored to be interested in at-home care before. In July 2018, for example, reports suggested that two health systems were working with Amazon and a startup called Xealth on a pilot program targeting hospital-to-home transitions.
Health care executives have long been paying attention to how Amazon might shake up the sector. In a Reaction Data survey of roughly 100 tops execs, 59% responded that Amazon was more likely to disrupt health care than similar powerhouses like Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Google (Nasdaq: GOOGL) or Walmart (NYSE: WAL).
Additional reporting by Robert Holly