The big tech firm rolled out its telehealth service, dubbed Amazon Care, to Amazon employees based in the Seattle area, according to MedCity News. The telehealth service, which was unveiled in September 2019, provides virtual medical consultations, the ability to schedule a follow-up visit from a medical professional in a patient’s home or office, and rapid prescription delivery, per CNBC.
The launch of Amazon’s telehealth service to its Seattle-based employees is the next domino to fall in preparation for a potential public rollout. Amazon has made a series of plays since unveiling Amazon Care back in September 2019 that suggest it’s building out the virtual care service, which could be poised for a public launch.
For instance, in October 2019, Amazon acquired digital triage solutions provider Health Navigator — and we posited that this technology could be integrated into the Amazon Care platform to determine the best pathway of care for patients and cut down on costs for employees insured by Amazon. Further, the big tech firm in January hired former pulmonary doctor and Apple consultant Vin Gupta as principal scientist to Amazon Care’s growing roster to help Amazon strategize how to deliver better care to its workers, per CNBC.
While these developments hinted that something big for Amazon Care could be brewing, the rollout of Amazon Care to a larger number of the tech giant’s employees could signal that a public launch of the telehealth service could be on the horizon. But we expect to see an incremental expansion of Amazon Care to a larger number of Amazon employees — or members of Haven, its health insurance JV with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway — before a wider-scale public launch takes place.
Should a public launch of Amazon Care happen, Amazon could lean on its Prime subscriber base and brand power to encourage adoption — which could spell trouble for smaller firms in the telehealth space. We predicted Amazon would build on its blockbuster year in healthcare by rolling out Amazon Care to the US public in 2020 — and in light of its recent launch, the big tech firm could be well on its way to making this public launch a reality.
With over 100 million Prime members — and strong brand recognition to boot — Amazon has a robust foundation and customer base in place should it decide to publicly roll out Amazon Care, leaving it in great shape to tap into the $2.6 billion US telehealth market. And Amazon’s presence in the telehealth market could spell trouble for smaller telehealth firms that may not have the same degree of brand recognition and resources as the retail behemoth, which at a $315.5 billion valuation became the world’s most valuable brand in 2019.
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Amazon could leverage its power as a beloved consumer brand that’s recognized for convenience to encourage adoption of Amazon Care among the 90% of US consumers who haven’t utilized telehealth, which could leave smaller players in the space scrambling to keep up with Amazon Care. Thus, we think we’ll see heightened merger and acquisition activity among telehealth vendors as they prepare for Amazon’s expansion into telehealth.
Source: Business Insider