Amazon gets back into the virtual care space with the launch of Amazon Clinic

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In August, on the heels of its acquisition of One Medical, Amazon abruptly announced it would be shutting down Amazon Care, its virtual health service for employees that it first launched in 2019, at the end of the year. Now, only a few months later, the company is already getting back into the space with a new offering that’s available to any patient rather than just those who work at Amazon or its partners. 

On Tuesday, the company announced the launch of Amazon Clinic, which it calls, “a virtual health storefront, bringing together clinical offerings from national, award-winning telehealth providers.”

With Amazon Clinic, customers are able to select the third-party telehealth provider that best meets their timeline and budget, then connect directly with a licensed clinician.

Customers start out by choosing their condition, then choosing their preferred provider, after which they complete a short intake questionnaire. Customers and clinicians then directly connect through a secure message-based portal. After the consultation, the clinician will send a personalized treatment plan via the portal, including any necessary prescriptions to the customer’s preferred pharmacy. Consultations include ongoing follow-up messages for customers with their clinician for up to two weeks. 

Amazon Clinic doesn’t currently accept insurance, though customers may be able to use their insurance for any prescription medication costs that result from their Amazon Clinic visit. Customers will be able to see how much a consultation will cost beforehand; these prices are set by the providers, not Amazon Clinic.

To start, Amazon Clinic will operate in 32 states and will provide virtual care for more than 20 conditions, including acne, asthma refills, birth control, cold sores, conjunctivitis, dandruff, eczema, erectile dysfunction, eyelash growth, genital herpes, gastroesophageal reflux disease, hyperlipidemia refills, hypertension refills, hypothyroidism refills, men’s hair loss, migraines, motion sickness, rosacea, seasonal allergies, sinusitis, smoking cessation, urinary tract infections, and yeast infections.

The company says that, over time, it will expand support for other conditions, as well as launch in more states.

“We believe that improving both the occasional and ongoing engagement experience is necessary to making care dramatically better. We also believe that customers should have the agency to choose what works best for them. Amazon Clinic is just one of the ways we’re working to empower people to take control of their health by providing access to convenient, affordable care in partnership with trusted providers,” Amazon wrote in a blog post.

“Our new health care store lets customers choose from a network of leading telehealth providers based on their preferences. Every telehealth provider on Amazon Clinic has gone through rigorous clinical quality and customer experience evaluations by Amazon’s clinical leadership team.”

As mentioned, this is not Amazon’s first foray into virtual health; its previous service, Amazon Care, started as a service for Amazon employees based in Seattle, pairing virtual health care services with the option for an in-home visit from a nurse, the company expanded the program nationwide, offering it to companies in all 50 states who wanted to provide the service to their employees.

Amazon was still expanding the service, including adding mental health care through a partnership with mental health company Ginger, just before the announcement that it was going to be shut down.

In addition to the launch of Clinic, and the purchase of One Medical, Amazon’s other big move into the healthcare space was the launch of Amazon Pharmacy, a new store that allows customers to have their prescription medication delivered right to their door, in 2020. That came two years since Amazon announced it was buying online pharmacy PillPack for over $700 million, after which it launched its own line of over the counter drugs.

Correction: This article previously said that Amazon Care had shut down. It will end all operations and will continue to offer urgent care services via 24/7 chat and video calls through December 31, 2022. 

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