Amazon's moves in the health sector

Amazon’s moves in the health sector

In an unexpected move, Amazon announced the closure of Amazon Care, active since 2019 as a health care and telemedicine service. The announcement of the end of the service on 31 December follows the announcement of the intention to purchase One Medicala publicly traded health care company, worth approx $ 3.9 billion. If confirmed, the deal will be paid in full in cash and will constitute the third largest acquisition in Amazon’s history, behind only the acquisition of Whole Foods and MGM Studios. Amazon’s moves seem to reflect a willingness to adjust and accelerate the strengthening and development within the healthcare sector, which Amazon entered in 2018.

In the wake of Amazon’s announcement of the purchase of One Medical, the announcement of the closure – at the end of this year – of the Amazon Care service has also arrived. Launched in 2019 as a pilot service for Seattle-based employees, Amazon Care provides virtual urgent care visits, as well as paid telemedicine consultations and home visits by nurses for testing and vaccinations. Last year it expanded nationwide to non-Amazon employees, introducing in-person services in at least seven cities and signing contracts with some corporate customers, including Hilton, Silicon Labs and Whole Foods (owned by Amazon). The closure is surprising given the plans announced last February to expand Amazon Care in-person services to 20 new cities by the end of this year.

In an internal note relating to the decision, Amazon Health Services chief Neil Lindsay said, “This is not a comprehensive enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have turned to and it would not have worked in the long term.” Amazon Care’s ability to attract business customers has become one of its most significant challengesexplained R. “Ray” Wang, founder and principal analyst of Constellation Research, based in Silicon Valley. However, Wang said he served as a learning experience for Amazon. “The technology used for Amazon Care has helped drive a number of innovations that they will use and reuse,” Wang said, adding that Amazon has “learned which types of patients preferred which types of services, how far telemedicine can go, and when instead it is necessary to physically visit with a doctor ». With the acquisition of One Medical, Amazon will be able to count on a physical structure already developed and with the potential for further development, also given the economic-financial-political power of the giant led by Jeff Bezos.

One Medicalfor which Amazon intends to shell out $ 3.9 billion in cashit’s a subscription-based primary care service which offers its members 24/7 access to virtual cures and to telemedicine with strategically placed medical offices across the country to complement its technology-based platform. Google and Airbnb offer their employees One Medical subscriptions while the company has also managed to develop a model of collaboration with hospitals and health systems nationwide. Currently, One Medical owns and operates 188 clinics in over 20 major US cities including Atlanta, Austin, Dallas-Ft. Worth, Los Angeles, New York, Phoenix, Raleigh-Durham and Seattle. One Medical prides itself on its ability to provide same-day or next-day appointments, with comprehensive and affordable primary care services, including on-site laboratory services and extended hours.

Evidently the Bezos giant has decided to continue to follow the path undertaken with great conviction in the world of medicine and health but preferring to incorporate external companies already established in the sector, as happened in the food sector with Amazon Fresh, when in 2017 Bezos preferred to buy the already established Whole Foods for nearly $ 14 billion. One of the first steps taken in medical-health sector by Amazon was the purchase, in 2018from PillPack, online pharmacy offering pre-dosed medicines and home delivery in the US; the cost of the operation was approximately one billion dollars. From the base of the acquired know-how it was then launched, in the United States, Amazon Pharmacythe online pharmacy of the multinational.

The same Washington Postowned by Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, notes that Amazon Care is among the founders, along with other companies in the sector, of a lobby group – born in 2021 – called Moving Health Home. One of the home health companies, Landmark Health, was founded by Adam Boehler, who ran Medicaid and Medicare under President Donald Trump. Since its inception, the coalition has encouraged Congress to extend waivers passed during the coronavirus pandemic, which relaxed federal regulations on home health care. The final goal of the group is to make permanent the exceptions posed with the health emergency.

According to Open Secrets, which tracks the influence of money in politics, Moving Health Home spent $ 440,000 on federal government lobbying in 2021 and another 220,000 in the first half of 2022. Evidently Amazon feels the need to accelerate the development of its share of the market in the medical-health sector in order not to risk being left out, in the struggle with the other giants of the same, with respect to to the beneficial effects that the Covid-19 emergency has generated in the private medical-health sector.

[di Michele Manfrin]


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