After a series of missteps, Amazon makes another attempt at health care
Amazon has its sights set once again on health care. Not because Amazon brings any particular healthcare expertise or passion for improving the quality and affordability of health care in America, but seemingly because health care is a massive industry (~$4.3 trillion in 2021 and growing over 50% by the end of the decade). Amazon wants their cut.
First, it was Amazon Pharmacy. Next, it was the now-shuttered Amazon Care. Then they purchased One Medical, with the aim of moving more aggressively into serving employers. At the time, I wrote that Amazon was losing sight of what made them special in other industries -- directly serving customers to disrupt unfriendly industries.
With Amazon Clinic, they’re trying something more in that spirit -- directly selling a service to patients, although seemingly with a retread model vs a genuine innovation. The Amazon Clinic approach of asynchronous care, provided by third-parties where Amazon doesn’t credential/vet the clinicians, seems to borrow a model GoodRx attempted in 2020 (with GoodRx’s care marketplace) and recently sold off/licensed assets from their GoodRx Care model to a back-end virtual care service provider, Wheel.
So far, Amazon has had a difficult time proving to customers why they should trust them with their health care dollars. While the Amazon brand is strong, it remains to be seen how fears over counterfeits may impact customers’ willingness to trust Amazon to get them genuine, high-quality medical care -- especially in a setting where patients won’t be able to select their doctor or speak to them live and face-to-face (whether in-person or via video).
At Sesame, we welcome Amazon’s latest attempt to enter health care - patients deserve options. But we believe that good care means letting patients choose their doctors, and that giving patients an “asynchronous visit” -- a fancy term for a survey to fill out -- is no replacement for a real, one-on-one conversation with a clinician who knows their stuff and knows you. Good care also requires supplementing a personal conversation with hard data -- in the form of laboratory testing, imaging and the full range of diagnostics that support good care. Sometimes it also requires specialists to get involved. We’ll continue making that full service available to patients -- at shockingly affordable prices.