Amazon recently launched its pilot Amazon Care program to Seattle-based employees. Amazon Care is a virtual primary care clinic with an option for nurses to visit employees anywhere (at home, in the office, or virtually). This approach to telemedicine changes the game for patients, giving employees easy access to healthcare services via app, chat, and remote video.
The program shows promise for busy employees and their families by eliminating office visits and wait times, delivering prescriptions to employees’ doors, and offering personalized care when and where it’s needed.
Although the program is currently a pilot for a small subset of employees, there will likely be a more publicly available option in the future. According to one source, recent reports also suggest that Amazon Care is “going to make a play in consumer health with new wearable fitness tracking devices, which could very nicely complement insurance and healthcare services offered at the enterprise and individual level. Perhaps not coincidentally, Walgreens, CVS and McKesson stock were all trading down today.”
Amazon isn’t the only technology giant to launch its own health clinic for employees, rather than contract with a third party such as One Medical or Crossover Health. Apple has its own clinic, AC Wellness, which is based near its headquarters.
So what does this mean for the healthcare industry? How will this impact companies and patients who are increasingly ‘going digital?’ I sat down with Steve LoSardo, VP, Healthcare Delivery at Mobiquity, to get his take.
Q: How does this type of digital transformation remove friction from the patient experience?
Steve: Amazon Care is designed to help employees and their families get access to a healthcare provider at any location, in real-time. It eliminates travel and wait time, connecting employees and their family members to a physician or nurse practitioner through live chat or video, with the option for in-person follow up services from a registered nurse ranging from immunizations to instant strep throat detection. It has the potential of connecting people to the health system in an innovative way that eliminates barriers found in more traditional care settings, while maintaining the high standard of care that people expect.
Q: How do you see this affecting the greater healthcare industry?
Steve: Amazon’s announcement is very exciting and sure to increase interest in telemedicine by employers, particularly those that have self-insured health plans. As healthcare costs continue to rise, employers are looking for ways to provide employees with access to quality care while doing it in a cost effective way. Amazon Care has the potential to do just that, offering both a virtual experience as well as in-person care. I have no doubt that companies will monitor this program to see how it is received, with more than a few exploring how they can offer a similar program to their employees.
Q: Do you think we will continue to see other major players announce this type of commitment to technology and innovation in 2020 and beyond?
Steve: I definitely think we will see other major players invest in technology and innovation as not only does it address the need to provide better access to healthcare, but also patient desires for convenience and lower costs. This aligns well with the move toward the consumerization of healthcare.
Patients today expect easier access to services, more convenience, and a better experience. While use of telemedicine and other digital health technologies has been growing over the past 10 years, it still remains a small portion of the overall healthcare services sector. Having Amazon as a new entrant in this space will serve to announce to many that providing healthcare services in this manner is possible and needs to be considered as an important option for improving the delivery of care and achieving the goals of population health management.
Q: What final thoughts and/or takeaways do you have regarding this news?
Steve: When Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JP Morgan announced last year a joint venture focused on lowering healthcare costs and improving employee satisfaction, it definitely created a ripple across the healthcare ecosystem. The Amazon Care program is sure to create a wave based on Amazon’s role as a “disruptor” across many industries. I expect to see announcements from the healthcare space, including from self-insured employers, payers, providers, and technology companies regarding their plans to offer digital health solutions that improve health outcomes and lower the cost of care, while providing high-quality care to patients across multiple settings.
Companies looking to explore opportunities for digital health offerings need to focus on the patient as a consumer, increasing their understanding regarding how people want to engage in the healthcare delivery process. Like many other industries, healthcare consumers are looking for experiences that allow them to have more options regarding how, when, and where they access services. They are looking for omni-channel experiences, whether mobile, web, video, or voice, that are easy to use and provide them with the motivation and tools to better manage their health in real-time. And, maybe most of all, it needs to be frictionless. Amazon Care checks all the boxes, providing a roadmap to follow.
Our special thanks to Steve for contributing to this blog. Do you have questions about implementing voice, chat, mobile, or web experiences in your business? Feel free to shoot Steve an email, tweet, or message with your questions about digital health solutions.
About Steve LoSardo, VP, Healthcare Delivery
Steve LoSardo is a dynamic leader and visionary with more than 25 years of experience delivering high value technology solutions to consumer, life science and healthcare companies. A proven innovator, he is adept at solving complex business problems using advanced, technology-driven digital solutions based on best practices and industry standards. Key areas of specialization include Digital Strategy, Mobile, Web, Voice, IoT and Advance Analytics.
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