News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

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News, Analysis, Trends, Management Innovations for
Clinical Laboratories and Pathology Groups

Hosted by Robert Michel
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Consumer demand for telehealth services and convenient healthcare locations fuels Amazon’s quest to ‘reinvent’ healthcare

Amazon’s stated goal of disrupting traditional healthcare processes and workflow continues. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Amazon built several large clinical laboratories to do its own SARS-CoV-2 testing. Then, last February, Amazon acquired One Medical, a San Francisco-based primary care provider that offers telehealth services, for $3.9 billion. Now, Amazon is opening new One Medical locations and expanding its primary care service nationwide.  

Dark Daily covered Amazon’s 2022 announcement to purchase One Medical in “Amazon Signs Agreement to Purchase One Medical for $3.9 Billion, Aims to ‘Reinvent’ Healthcare.” We reported how, 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.

Acquiring One Medical gave Amazon dozens of existing physical healthcare locations. There are currently more than 125 One Medical clinics offering clinical laboratory testing and primary care services—including telehealth and live chat consulting—in several large metropolitan areas around the country.

For an annual fee of $199, patients who utilize One Medical receive access to year around 24/7 on-demand, virtual care. Other services, such as in-office doctor visits and clinical laboratory testing, can be billed to most major insurance health plans.

The trend of shifting clinical services from in-person, medical-office visits to other approaches, such as virtual care, continues to expand throughout the healthcare industry driven by consumer demand.

Amazon now offers virtual healthcare services in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The company appears committed to delivering what it believes are better alternatives to existing primary care, clinical laboratory, and retail pharmacies.

“We’re on a mission to make it dramatically easier for people to find, choose, afford, and engage with the services, products, and professionals they need to get and stay healthy, and coming together with One Medical is a big step on that journey,” said Neil Lindsay, Senior Vice President of Amazon Health Services in a press release. Clinical laboratories in areas where One Medical operates may want to investigate opportunities to collaborate with Amazon. (Photo copyright: Advertising Age/Daniel Berman.)

Does One Medical Represent the Future of Healthcare?

In August, Amazon announced the opening of new One Medical offices in Connecticut and San Francisco. A new facility will also be opened in Milwaukee in the fall with more new locations planned for 2024. 

“If you fast forward 10 years from now, people are not going to believe how primary care was administered. For decades, you called your doctor, made an appointment three or four weeks out, drove 15-20 minutes to the doctor, parked your car, signed in and waited several minutes in reception, eventually [you] were placed in an exam room, where you waited another 10-15 minutes before the doctor came in, saw you for five to ten minutes and prescribed medicine, and then you drove 20 minutes to the pharmacy to pick it up—and that’s if you didn’t have to then go see a specialist for additional evaluation, where the process repeated and could take even longer for an appointment,” said Amazon CEO Andy Jassy in a One Medical news release.

“Customers want and deserve better, and that’s what One Medical has been working and innovating on for more than a decade. Together, we believe we can make the healthcare experience easier, faster, more personal, and more convenient for everyone,” he added.

These are some of One Medical’s offerings according to the news release:

  • Around-the-clock access through the One Medical app.
  • On-demand virtual care services, like 24/7 video chats and easy in-app messaging, included in membership at no extra cost.
  • Same and next-day in-office or remote visits.
  • Walk-in availability for on-site clinical laboratory services.
  • Clinical and digital integrations with leading hospital networks across the US.
  • Easy access to vaccine and medical records, prescription renewals, specialty referrals, and lab results in the One Medical app.

“One Medical has set the bar for what a quality, convenient, and affordable primary care experience should be like,” said Neil Lindsay, Senior Vice President of Amazon Health Services in the news release. “We’re inspired by their human-centered, technology-forward approach and excited to help them continue to grow and serve more patients.”

Not Amazon’s First Attempt at Delivering Healthcare

This latest venture is not Amazon’s first dive into the healthcare market. The company initially began offering medical services through its Amazon Clinic in limited locations starting last November. 

According to its website, Amazon Clinic can quickly treat common health issues via 24/7 video visits with a clinician. No appointments are needed, and health insurance is not a requirement.

Other Amazon ventures into healthcare have not been successful. In 2020, their Haven Healthcare project failed less than three years after its launch. Despite partnering with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, Haven Healthcare faltered mostly due to insufficient market power, unacceptable incentives, and poor timing because of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Harvard Business Review.

Amazon also shuttered Amazon Care, a pilot program for their employees that blended telehealth and primary healthcare services, at the end of last year. 

With an increase in the number of companies moving into the healthcare market, patients may have access to better options, more reasonable pricing, and faster and more convenient access to services in the future, including clinical laboratory testing.

“At the end of the day, all patients, all customers, all people want to be healthy,” said Nworah Ayogu, MD, Amazon Clinic General Manager and founding Medical Director for CityBlock Health, during a CNBC Healthy Returns Summit virtual event earlier this year. “The reason why they’re not healthy is because the health system has all these barriers, so whether that is cost, confusion … some are societal, some within the healthcare system, so that’s really on us to remove those barriers and think through how we do that.”

Clinical laboratories operating in areas serviced by Amazon’s One Medical clinics may find an opportunity to help support Amazon’s goal of providing affordable healthcare in convenient locations. At the same time, pathologists and lab executives may find it timely to recognize how primary care is poised to be transformed by disruptors, such as Amazon and those national retail pharmacy chains now building primary clinics in their stores.

—JP Schlingman

Related Information:

Amazon Clinic Expands Doctor Visit Marketplace to 50 States

Amazon-owned One Medical Begins Opening New Locations Across US

Amazon-Owned One Medical Celebrates Grand Opening in Darien

Primary Care Designed Around You

One Medical Joins Amazon to Make It Easier for People to Get and Stay Healthier

Amazon Clinic Dr. Nworah Ayogu at CNBC Healthy Returns Summit 2023

Why Haven Healthcare Failed

Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and JPMorgan Chase Close Haven Healthcare After Only Three Years in Operation