Amazon combines virtual care clinic with One Medical

By: Anuja Vaidya

Amazon is folding its virtual care service, Amazon Clinic, into One Medical, its virtual and in-person primary care organization.  

Now called Amazon One Medical, healthcare consumers can access virtual care in two ways: pay-per-visit telehealth or via One Medical membership, which involves paying a monthly or annual fee for on-demand virtual and in-person primary care.

The pay-per-visit service will offer access to care for more than 30 common health conditions, such as acne, COVID-19, and erectile dysfunction. The service includes message-based visits, priced at $29, wherein clinicians review medical information, exchange messages with the healthcare consumer, and send them a treatment plan, and video visits, priced at $49, wherein consumers can connect with clinicians via video in real time.

An Amazon press release notes that the pay-per-visit service is an option for consumers who do not live near a One Medical office or need quick access to address a one-off health issue outside their primary care office.

Healthcare consumers with a One Medical membership can access the on-demand virtual care services through their membership at no extra cost. They can book remote or in-person appointments for acute or chronic conditions, such as coughs, headaches, diabetes, hypertension, and irritable bowel syndrome. Members can use the One Medical app to message their care team, access their health records, manage prescriptions, and book same-day and next-day remote or in-office appointments. Amazon One Medical membership is available to Prime members as a benefit for $9 a month or $99 a year. For non-members, Amazon One Medical services are available for $199 a year.

“It’s simply too hard to get the medical care you need, when you need it, and affordably — long waits, high costs, and impersonal care make it unnecessarily difficult for many patients today. We’re focused on improving both the occasional and ongoing medical care experience,” said Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services, in the press release.  

Amazon Clinic launched in 2022, following the shuttering of Amazon Care, a telehealth and in-person care business positioned as an employer-focused service. Amazon Clinic offered messaging-based virtual care for common conditions by connecting healthcare consumers to a network of telehealth providers, including SteadyMD and Health Tap. 

The rebranding brings the virtual care clinic under the One Medical umbrella. The technology giant purchased One Medical in a $3.9 billion deal that closed in 2023.

“Amazon is known for experimenting through pilots, and this could indicate that pay-per-visit telehealth, formerly Amazon Clinic, has passed the hurdle for inclusion in its broader primary care platform,” said Sari Kaganoff, chief commercial officer at Rock Health Advisory, in an email. “The move could also be a sign that Amazon is capitalizing on One Medical’s healthcare clout by turning that into its flagship healthcare brand.”

The combination of the services allows Amazon to customize healthcare offerings according to consumer preference, she added. Consumer adoption data from Rock Health shows that nearly half (49 percent) of consumers prefer virtual care for minor illnesses, and more than two-thirds (69 percent) prefer to get their prescriptions via virtual care. Thus, bringing Amazon Clinic under the One Medical brand could help boost membership.

“Combining the two services under one brand may be a move to convert virtual care users to One Medical membership,” Kaganoff said. 

Larry Cohen, CEO of Health2047, an innovation firm backed by the American Medical Association, offered another perspective.  The decision to combine the healthcare services may be related to the challenges of navigating the primary care market, where healthcare entrants have faced challenges. 

For instance, in April, Walmart announced   plans to close its 51 health centers and Walmart Health Virtual Care. The company cited the “challenging reimbursement environment and escalating operating costs” as the primary reasons for the decision. Further, earlier this year, Business Insider reported that Amazon cut hundreds of healthcare jobs, including at One Medical and Amazon Pharmacy, and closed One Medical’s corporate offices in New York City, Minneapolis, and St. Petersburg, Florida.

“Merging these offerings appears to be a strategic move by Amazon to evaluate and adapt its care models to meet patient needs and market pressures alike,” said Cohen in an email. “Primary care has been a tough nut to crack for many retail entrants,  including Walmart and Amazon, which had its own stumbles earlier this year when it received patient backlash after laying off One Medical clinical staff.”         

Cohen also cautioned that we do not yet know what the effect of this combination will be on the clinical and physician experience. 

Additionally, the news of the combination comes on the heels of reports of patient safety concerns at One Medical.

The Washington Post recently reported that staff at a One Medical call center failed to appropriately flag those who need urgent medical attention on dozens of occasions. Based on documents leaked to the Post, the call center staff, who are supposed to escalate care when necessary, include “newly hired contractors with limited training and little to no medical experience.”

In a statement shared with mHealthIntelligence, Amazon refutes these claims. An Amazon spokesperson said via email that call center staff receive five weeks of training, including two weeks of classroom-style training and two weeks of hands-on training, where they work alongside experienced employees. In week 5, they spend 75 percent of their time in coaching and the rest answering calls before dedicating their time to answering calls fully. 

The statement also notes that the phone support teams do not provide medical advice, and time-sensitive medical concerns are evaluated by One Medical Seniors’ virtual care team.

“Our value-based care model allows us to closely monitor patients’ entire health journey, and we are confident there was no known harm to patients,” the statement reads. 

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