Amazon Care to cease operations after 31 December. Amazon Health Services is throwing in the towel on its primary care service for enterprise customers, after failing to make much headway with its mix of virtual care, in-home, and telehealth services. An internal email from Neil Lindsay, Amazon Health Services senior vice president, sent today (24 Aug) to employees but leaked to the press, stated that “This decision wasn’t made lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration. Although our enrolled members have loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it is not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have been targeting, and wasn’t going to work long-term.”
Employees who have been part of Amazon Care may have the opportunity to transfer to other parts of Health Services, according to the memo, or will be ‘supported’ in finding other roles within or outside the company. The total number of employees was not disclosed, but this Editor expects layoffs to be announced by the fall as Amazon Care winds down.
Amazon has been moving in a different direction with enterprises for some months. Reportedly the decision was made to ditch Amazon Care prior to agreeing to acquire One Medical, which was announced late in July. However, recently revealed negotiations actually started last February, with One Medical pitting Amazon against CVS until CVS dropped its bid effort [TTA 19 August].
As this Editor noted last month with the One Medical acquisition, “…for this Editor it is clear that Amazon with One Medical is buying itself into in-person and virtual primary care for the employer market, where it had limited success with its present largely virtual offering, and entreé with commercial plans and MA.” With One Medical, they will be acquiring an operation with 790,000 patients (including 40,000 at-risk, presumably Iora’s), 8,000 company clients, 125 physical offices in 21 US metros (including projected), and an established telehealth/telemedicine protocol. In other words, a ready-made provider and enterprise base to build on and sell into, for instance Amazon products like Pharmacy and PillPack.
Not addressed is what will be done, if anything, to transition current employer agreements for Amazon Care to One Medical.
It’s now a matter of whether HHS, DOJ, and FTC will agree to the buy or ask for additional divestitures. One conflict–Amazon Care–has just been removed. And this may clear the deck for other acquisitions, such as Signify Health [TTA 24 Aug], if Amazon wins the auction against CVS, UnitedHealth Group, and Option Care Health, though for a newcomer to healthcare Signify may very well be A Bridge Too Far.
What’s in play?
- One Medical’s Iora Health and its high needs/high costs Medicare patient base. This has very much been held in the background, leading this Editor to think it will be sold to another health plan.
- The status of the previous agreement with Crossover Health for 115,000 Amazon employees and dependents, delivered through their employer-based onsite clinics in 11 states in addition to concierge care [TTA 17 May]
- Another previous agreement with Ginger for telemental health, only announced last week.
Amazon was touting Amazon Care as recently as earlier this year to shareholders. They had acquired employers outside Amazon such as Hilton, but not quickly enough. Expansion talk and the usual touting within the industry weren’t happening. There was an ‘air of mystery’ about what Amazon Care was doing, going back to the beginning.
Perhaps a major ‘tell’ was that Kristen Helton, general manager in charge of Amazon Care, was reported two weeks ago by Bloomberg News to be taking an “extended break to spend the summer with her family.” She had been in the GM position for three years after joining Amazon in 2015.
Count Amazon Care as one expensive learning course in the insanely costly University of Healthcare Delivery. This won’t be the first lesson, but Amazon can afford the tuition.
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