Company also launches Amazon Clinic virtual healthcare services and announces it will terminate Amazon Care by end of year
Clinical laboratory leaders and pathologists may understandably struggle to keep abreast of Amazon’s moves in the healthcare space. For years, Amazon has tried to develop medical services that disrupt the US healthcare industry in the same way its digital book business upended traditional book publishing. It is clear that Amazon is heavily investing in healthcare ventures that deliver what it believes are better alternatives to existing primary care, clinical laboratory, and retail pharmacy options.
Headquartered in San Francisco, One Medical has primary care offices in 12 major US markets and offers its members 24/7 virtual care, according to the company’s website.
“We think healthcare is high on the list of experiences that need reinvention,” said Neil Lindsay (above), SVP of Amazon Health Services, in a news release announcing the planned acquisition of One Medical. “We love inventing to make what should be easy easier, and we want to be one of the companies that helps dramatically improve the healthcare experience over the next several years,” he added. However, clinical laboratory leaders have watched Amazon’s efforts to disrupt healthcare come and go. (Photo copyright: Advertising Age/Daniel Berman.)
As One Medical Grows, Amazon Launches Virtual Care Clinic
“One Medical’s philosophy is rooted in quality care, patient-centered design, and a smart application of technology,” Greg Hayes, MD, District Medical Director for One Medical, Preston Center, Dallas, told Texas News.
For its part, One Medical, which currently has more than 125 clinic locations, sees opportunity to grow its services as part of Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN). “Joining Amazon is a tremendous next step in innovating and expanding access to high-quality, high-value healthcare,” said Amir Dan Rubin, One Medical Chief Executive Officer, in a blog post.
One Medical (NASDAQ:ONEM) is the operating name for 1Life Healthcare, Inc., a chain of primary care clinics that has 815,000 members, a 14% increase over last year. According to a news release on the company’s third quarter 2022 financial results, its revenue was $261.4 million, up 73% over the same period last year. More than 8,000 companies and organizations work with One Medical, the company’s website notes.
Amazon Clinic offers virtual care services for 20 common conditions including allergies, acne, migraines, and urinary tract infections. Patients complete a questionnaire through a message-based portal prior to meeting with clinicians.
Clinical laboratory managers and pathologists will want to note that Amazon Clinic will need medical laboratory testing performed to properly diagnose patients and determine the best treatments. Since Amazon Clinic will be a virtual care service, Amazon can be expected to explore such options as sending collection kits directly to individuals using the virtual care service, allowing them to collect needed samples that can be returned to traditional clinical laboratories for testing. Amazon’s existing courier and delivery service would make it easy for the internet giant to deliver either specimen collection kits or home-test kits to obtain the necessary diagnostic data.
“Amazon Pharmacy and One Medical (once the deal closes) are two key ways we’re working to make care more convenient and accessible. But we also know that sometimes you just need a quick interaction with a clinician for a common health concern. … That’s why today were also introducing Amazon Clinic, a message-based virtual care service,” Amazon said in its news release.
What’s Next for Amazon?
Separately, Amazon announced it will terminate Amazon Care at the end of 2022. Amazon Care is a virtual and in-home care service it launched in 2019.
In “Amazon Care Pilot Program Offers Virtual Primary Care to Seattle Employees; Features Both Telehealth and In-home Care Services That Include Clinical Laboratory Testing,” Dark Daily reported how Amazon was piloting Amazon Care as a benefit for its 53,000 Seattle-area employees and their families, and how it could indicate that the world’s largest online retailer was planning a move into the primary care space.
However, in a 2022 internal email, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services Neil Lindsay said Amazon Care wasn’t a sustainable, long-term solution for its enterprise customers, according to Fierce Healthcare.
“This decision wasn’t made lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration,” he said. “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.”
Will Amazon Provide Clinical Laboratory Services?
Now that Amazon is set with primary care, pharmacy, and virtual health services, might it next explore medical laboratory testing or other diagnostics relationships?
In “Amazon Now Interested in Home Testing Services,” Dark Daily’s sister publication The Dark Report noted that actions Amazon took during the COVID-19 pandemic suggest it may be “serious about clinical laboratory services.”
The Dark Report was alluding to US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of the Amazon Real-Time RT-PCR Test for Detecting SARS-CoV-2, which was to be performed at clinical laboratories “designated by STS Lab Holdco (a subsidiary of Amazon.com Services LLC) that are certified under the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments of 1988 (CLIA), 42 U.S.C. §263a, and meet requirements to perform high complexity tests,” according to Healthcare Purchasing News.
However, on July 19, the FDA revoked its EUA of the Amazon test.
But this apparently has not slowed Amazon’s drive to gain a foothold in the primary care and virtual health services market. Therefore, clinical laboratory leaders should advance their outreach to healthcare providers who are caring for Amazon employees, customers, and soon patients, in new ways and offer their lab services.
—Donna Marie Pocius