The Seattle Times reports that "Amazon has launched a pilot program to directly administer health-care services to many of its nearly 54,000 Seattle-area employees and their families."
The story suggests that this represents Amazon's most ambitious health care-related effort, providing "on-demand chat and video consultations with medical professionals," and enabling "users to schedule in-person visits with clinicians at patients’ homes or offices."
When people pay for those services, they do so through - natch - Amazon.com.
Some context from the Times story:
"Amazon Care clinicians are employed by Oasis Medical Group, which Amazon describes as 'a medical practice licensed in Washington State.'
"Oasis, which does not have a website and appears to be in Amazon’s Prime building on Mercer Street, according to business filings, was founded in April 2018 by Dr. Martin Levine. Amazon hired Levine, a Seattle geriatrician, in January 2018 from health-care startup Iora, a leader in patient-centered care."
Amazon already has made a move into the prescription business with its acquisition of Pillpack, an online pharmacy that provides per-sorted prescriptions to customers. And, it is working with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase on health care initiative the details of which have not been disclosed.
While Amazon Care is limited to the company's Seattle-area employees for the moment, the Times suggests that, if successful, it could be made available to Amazon's more than a half-million employees around the country.
I think most people would agree that the nation's health care business is a) ripe for disruption, and b) more likely to be revolutionized by private companies looking for innovative solutions as opposed to elected officials looking for politically palatable formulas that adhere to their ideologies.
While Amazon's continued investment in yet another segment of our lives certainly could be a matter of some concern, it seems to me that there are few companies as likely to rock the boat in a way that gets us to the dock as effectively and efficiently. And a half million employees would be a pretty good start.