About a year ago, Amazon (Nasdaq: AMZN) announced the launch of a new virtual care clinic to give some of its employees access to telehealth and in-home care services.
The online retail giant is now expanding that program — dubbed “Amazon Care” — as it takes another step closer toward disrupting the in-home care landscape.
When Amazon initially rolled out its care offering, it was mainly for employees and their dependents living in the Seattle area. The company, which expects net sales to come in between $87 billion and $93 billion in the third quarter, is now scaling Amazon Care throughout the entire state of Washington.
“After receiving positive feedback from employees in the greater Seattle area, we are excited to be able to offer Amazon Care’s virtual health services to eligible Amazon employees across Washington State,” an Amazon spokesperson told Home Health Care News in an email. “With this announcement, we are helping even more employees and their families get access to high-quality, transparent and convenient care whenever they need it.”
The expansion is partly tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has accelerated efforts to shift care into the home across health care and technology sectors.
“I think we have adapted well to increase the interest that COVID-19 has created,” Kristen Helton, director of Amazon Care, said in an interview with CNBC. “I would say that it has made services like Amazon Care more important.”
Among its services, Amazon Care gives eligible employees and their dependents the ability to coordinate a visit from a mobile care nurse, who can conduct in-person health exams, testing and treatment.
The program also gives eligible participants access to “care couriers” for prescription deliveries and clinicians via its in-app chat services.
Currently, only Amazon employees and dependents enrolled in an Amazon health insurance plan are eligible for Amazon Care. Individuals interested in using Amazon Care services need to be at least 18 years old, and both live and work in Washington.
It is unknown how many employees the Amazon Care service covers. Similarly, it is unclear whether Amazon plans to eventually expand the program to eligible individuals outside of Washington.
Nonetheless, many see Amazon’s virtual care offering as another clear signal of its interest in the health care sector.
Apart from Amazon Care, the company is also participating in the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN), a group of medical, public health and research organizations working to understand the spread of COVID-19 in the greater Seattle area.
Amazon additionally has worked to foster HIPAA-compliance in its Alexa-powered devices. Previous reports have also suggested the company is increasingly interested in the pharmacy and in-home testing spaces.
In a 2018 survey conducted by Reaction Data, U.S. health care executives identified Amazon as the potential health care disruptor that’s most likely to shake up the current status quo. Other disruptors included Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), Google (Nasdaq: GOOGL) and Walmart (NYSE: WAL).