Amazon Care was initially launched as an internal health care offering for employees of Amazon, which is the second largest private employer in the country. Today, it’s available to employees of half a dozen corporate clients, including Silicon Labs, Precor, Amazon-owned Whole Foods, and Hilton, its largest partner that only signed on with Amazon Care in December.
Workers were told the service was being shut down because those customers didn’t see the value of the service, one of the people said. Dozens of employees will lose their jobs, with some leaving in October, according to the people.
Amazon spokeswoman Christina Smith confirmed the decision and shared a memo announcing it.
“This decision was not made lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration,” Amazon senior vice president of health Neil Lindsay said in an email to staff. “While our enrolled members loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it’s not a comprehensive enough offering for the large enterprise customers we’ve targeted, and it wasn’t going to work in the long run.”
In her email, Lindsay said that Amazon Care employees could be placed in other jobs within Amazon, and that the company would “support employees seeking positions outside the company.”
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post. Amazon first provided the letter announcing the closure to GeekWire and Fierce Healthcare.
The decision to shut down Amazon Care comes as a surprise given Amazon CEO Andy Jassy’s commitment to expanding Amazon’s healthcare investment. It follows Amazon’s $3.9 billion acquisition of concierge healthcare startup One Medical last month, a deal that could face antitrust scrutiny from the Federal Trade Commission.
Amazon Care allows patients to chat virtually with healthcare providers, schedule video visits and, in some locations, request that a healthcare provider visit their home to provide services including immunizations and screenings for common health issues, such as urinary tract infections. The convenience of the service was popular with employees.
In his 2021 letter to shareholders, Jassy named Amazon Care as an example of the “type of iterative innovation” that is “pervasive across all Amazon teams.”
Amazon Care’s human resources team learned the service was shutting down this week, according to people familiar with the matter. Meanwhile, in other Amazon departments, human resources staff encouraged employees to sign up for Amazon Care on Tuesday, according to an Amazon employee who spoke on condition of anonymity to protect his job.
“This decision by Amazon to throw in the towel should be vindication for those who believed the health care business is too complex, even for a company like Amazon,” health care consultant Paddy Padmanabhan said in a message. “This raises the question of whether someone can be successful as an independent primary care provider in health care, or whether they need to be part of an integrated health system for it to work.”
Amazon Care was born out of a secret, internal Amazon incubator program called the Grand Challenge. It is available virtually throughout the country and was supposed to expand to 20 cities for home care provided by mobile health nurses by the end of this year. To achieve that scale, the company increasingly relied on outside staffing agencies to provide its clinical workforce. Hiring is a challenge facing all healthcare organizations amid an ongoing labor shortage following the coronavirus pandemic.
On Wednesday, Amazon’s website had 20 job openings posted on Amazon Care.
One Medical is an upscale health offering that combines virtual care with physical clinics in cities like Boston, Chicago, DC and San Francisco, where the company is based. Although the company has largely focused on a young, urban user base, its 2021 acquisition de Iora Health expanded its reach to include the growing and potentially very lucrative market of Medicare patients age 65 and older.
By acquiring One Medical, Amazon stands to gain staff, a retail footprint, and a wealth of consumer healthcare data. Some privacy advocates are concerned about how Amazon will handle that information, and some One Medical customers have balked at the idea of their health care being managed by the e-commerce giant.
It was not immediately clear whether the overlap between One Medical, which directly serves consumers, and Amazon Care, which is an employee benefit intended in part to help companies lower health care costs, led Amazon to the decision to close the program.
Last week, The Post reported on tensions between Amazon Care and clinical staff the company hired to treat patients. Those medical professionals work for an independent company called Care Medical that is also closing. Six former employees said the two sides clashed over Amazon’s fast and frugal approach to expanding Amazon Care, which some former employees viewed as prioritizing business over best medical practices.
A former Amazon Care executive said at the time that Amazon was going to “try to do what they do in every other line of business: They’re going to try to do it better than everyone else, make it less expensive, and get crazy adoption.” .” for convenience. But health care is different. It’s hard.”
In response, Amazon’s Smith said in an email that Amazon prioritized the safety of patients and employees and that “Amazon Care has evolved and improved for both patients and physicians since the days of our pilot program.”
Lindsay, an Amazon veteran who He took care The company’s health services department last December emphasized in its letter that Amazon remains committed to its health care businesses.
“Our vision is to make it easy for people to access the health care products and services they need to get and stay healthy. We know that achieving this will not be easy or quick, but we believe it is important,” she wrote.
This is the second major healthcare investment that Amazon has liquidated. A health insurance company called Haven that he co-created with financial firms Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase closed last year.
The company continues to operate Amazon Pharmacy, a prescription ordering and delivery service that grew out of the Pillpack acquisition in 2018. Its cloud computing arm, Amazon Web Services, also has a significant presence in healthcare, where uses machine learning to analyze healthcare data for large healthcare organizations, among other companies.
Earlier this month, Amazon Care announced that would team up with Ginger, a virtual therapy start-up, to offer virtual mental health services. Amazon also offers virtual health care services through Alexa through a partnership with Teladoc.
In the year after taking the helm as CEO, Jassy tried to refocus Amazon’s business, closing some of its retail operations and slowing growth in its logistics division. Upheaval is not entirely uncommon for Amazon, which emphasizes flexibility and moves quickly to weed out projects that aren’t working.
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