NEWSTech

Not feeling well? Maybe it’s time to call on Amazon

Amazon Clinic potential scenario

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Amazon continues its foray into the healthcare industry with a new telemedicine platform; the aptly named Amazon Clinic. 

The service arrives just four months after the tech giant announced it’s going to buy healthcare firm One Medical for a whopping $3.9 billion. Through this partnership, Amazon Clinic (opens in new tab) will offer digital health services and direct access to company physicians for 23 “common health conditions” including allergies, hair loss, and migraines.

Amazon Clinic is not supposed to take over for a primary doctor nor will it address more serious conditions. The platform’s purpose is to help people with ailments that require private care but can be easily addressed over the internet. For more complex scenarios, clinicians will advise you to get in-person care.

The announcement states only 32 states will have access to Amazon Care, but there are plans to expand to all 50. The 18 states that don’t have Amazon Care include Arizona, Delaware, Mississippi, New York, and West Virginia. 

How it works

To get help, you first go to the Amazon Clinic homepage (opens in new tab) and select something like “seasonal allergy”, for example. From there, you choose the state where you live (assuming the service is available to you) and select an online clinic. You answer some questions about what you’re going through, the information gets reviewed, and a clinician gets back to you within a few hours. There’s no subscription fee to use the Amazon Clinic website, but you do have to pay the clinicians themselves. 

Insurance is not supported by the service; although, you can pay through an FSA (Flexible Spending Account) or HSA (Health Savings Account). Also the fees you’ll pay don’t include the cost of medicine; that’s extra. Amazon does have plans to accept insurance sometime in the future, according to the announcement.

Consultations are all done “through a secure message-based portal, giving [you] the flexibility to message [your] clinician” anytime you want. There are no video calls or live chats. From the portal, the healthcare provider will send a “personalized treatment plan…  including any necessary prescriptions…” which can be filled at your local pharmacy. You won’t be forced to use Amazon Pharmacy (opens in new tab) but using it is certainly an option.

Amazon Clinic also offers prescription renewals, although the selection is more limited. It only covers five types of prescriptions including asthma and high blood pressure medication. But the process is still the same: answer some questions and you get a response hours later.

We asked Amazon if there are plans for a global expansion and if video calls will be supported. This story will be updated if we hear back.

Changing landscape

The first question that’ll probably come to everyone’s mind is “is this platform safe?” The company states Amazon Clinic will “comply with HIPAA and all other applicable laws and regulations” to ensure user data is kept secure. Plus this isn’t Amazon’s first rodeo in healthcare. 

Before this, Amazon Care helped businesses provide healthcare benefits to their employees. However, that service will go offline by December 31 (opens in new tab) because it was too limited in scope for the company. It’ll be interesting to see how impactful Amazon Clinic will be. Offering fast virtual health services could help out in-person care by lessening the burden and providing short wait times. 

If you’re interested in other types of remote care, be sure to read TechRadar’s list of the best telemedicine software for 2022

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