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Amazon Takes Its Next Step Toward Disrupting Healthcare

By Daniel B. Kline – Feb 20, 2020 at 10:01AM

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The online retail powerhouse is making bold moves (albeit slowly).

Amazon (AMZN -0.09%) wants to change how Americans (and maybe people the world over) access healthcare. That's a massive undertaking, though, and the online giant has thus far moved into the space slowly, first by spending $1 billion buying Pillpack, a drug delivery start-up, and now by offering on-demand virtual healthcare for its Seattle-area employees.

A nurse examines a patient.

Amazon Care will also dispatch nurses to employees' homes when necessary. Image source: Amazon.

What is Amazon doing?

The company just launched Amazon Care, an app that connects employees with doctors and nurse practitioners via video or chat, CNBC reported. In-person followups are also available when needed, either in doctors' offices or through house calls. News that Amazon was developing the service first came in September, but the program has now launched for all employees at its Seattle headquarters who live within its coverage zone. As Amazon explained in a statement:

We're currently piloting a healthcare benefit designed to help Amazon employees get fast access to healthcare without an appointment, at the convenience of their schedules, at their preferred location (home, office, or virtual). Amazon Care 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.

Amazon has a history of testing products and services in-house before making them available to the broader public. For example, it used its cloud platform to host internal projects before developing it into Amazon Web Services, now the largest cloud computing business in the world.

Can Amazon fix healthcare?

The online retail leader has only dipped a toe into the waters of healthcare, but its massive customer base gives it an edge in anything it attempts. Amazon Care goes a step further than some other telemedicine and virtual health care services already on the market by adding the option for medical professionals to visit your home or office. House calls may not be a revolutionary new idea, but they certainly could prove to be an attractive benefit as Amazon attempts to guide the next evolution of healthcare.

John Mackey, CEO of Whole Foods Market, an Amazon subsidiary, is a member of The Motley Fool's board of directors. Daniel B. Kline has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Amazon. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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