Amazon has gone live with Amazon Care, its new pilot healthcare service offering for employees. The offering includes both virtual and in-person care, delivering telemedicine via app, chat, and remote video, as well as follow-up visits in person and prescription drug delivery through a courier directly to an employee’s home or office.
The Traditional Care Model As We Know It Has Shifted
According to Forrester Analytics data, over 74% of online consumers are already using or are interested in virtual care. As Amazon enters the healthcare market in a bigger way, it has focused on a key area of frustration for healthcare consumers: the need for a more convenient and cost-effective care option. And while many will opt for virtual care, those that might need to see a provider in person due to a higher acuity or lack of comfort with a virtual visit have the convenience of seeing a doctor at their home or office — reducing the need to take time off from work to see the doctor.
Amazon will have the ability to test and gain customer feedback within its employee population — which is not insignificant. Where many virtual care vendors, employers, and health insurance companies have struggled to gain adoption, Amazon is able to push for mass adoption from the start and iterate.
While Amazon Care does not provide 24×7 access today, many initial virtual care offerings started with set hours and then shifted to round-the-clock access. For example, 98point6 just shifted to this model in May for its customers. Expect Amazon to scale up to an “always on” model within the employee base before launching to the general public.
Healthcare, You’re On Notice
The Amazon, Berkshire Hathaway, and J.P. Morgan venture stated its intent to support hundreds of millions of lives. Providers and health insurance companies must implement virtual care support for their patients and members to ensure future customer acquisition and retention. For those that have already implemented these offerings, double down on awareness and strategize on lowering the price point. We found that cost barriers and awareness of these programs were the main causes for failure or low adoption in our research.
This is just Amazon’s initial MVP. What does the future look like? Let’s consider Amazon’s current capabilities and offerings: Imagine a world where Alexa notices that your voice has changed due to a cold or illness and recommends a virtual-care or in-person visit with Amazon Care. You receive your care through Amazon, and then the provider prescribes you a medication that is delivered through the courier service or PillPack within hours. Have a cold? Expect cough drops and OJ from Whole Foods with your order. That’s an experience that elicits delight, not the frustration and anger we face in our existing healthcare delivery system. Amazon has built its company on putting the customer first.
Healthcare industry: Put the customer first, or prepare to see customer attrition. In an industry that provides lip service to customer centricity, Amazon is ready to put its money where its mouth is.