Research
Interview Synopsis

Amazon Care – telehealth expansion efforts & penetration prospects

  • Public Equity
  • Healthcare
  • North America

“Alexa, refill my prescription,” is not a common command for many Amazon customers, but it is one the company hopes will grow as it makes further inroads in the US healthcare industry – a market worth more than USD 4.1trn in annual spending.* A former head at Amazon told Third Bridge Forum that Amazon Care is “well positioned” to challenge in this market. However, the company faces both strategic and organisational challenges as it continues to grow.

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Alexa finds its voice in Amazon Care

The specialist said Amazon Care is currently performing well in areas related to health and wellness, behaviour and nutrition. It has successfully partnered with its first B2B, the hotel group Hilton, and its acquisition of PillPack in 2018 has provided a “much better experience and delivery of medications” to consumers. 

In addition, Amazon Care has opportunities to leverage its other technologies, such as Prime and Alexa, to cover a number of healthcare functionalities, something other telehealth companies cannot do, we’re told. “Alexa can be your reminder to take your pill or a reminder on your treatment programme, or a reminder that you have an upcoming telemedicine call or an upcoming in-person visit, or that somebody has been dispatched to your house and you can track them directly to your home.”

Combining this technology and other Amazon software systems into Amazon Care is one of the biggest challenges facing Neil Lindsay, who was recently appointed to lead Amazon’s health sector, which the specialist said could take 3-5 years to address. Other headwinds Amazon Care faces is developing a compounding pharmacy – the fastest-growing segment of pharmacy today – as well as providing a surgical offering.  

The specialist said both issues could be resolved through acquisitions, speculating that Owens & Minor or Medline would add expertise to the business. However, they noted Amazon usually “bets on itself” rather than acquiring a company to solve its problems. 

In the future, the specialist expects Amazon Care to move away from B2C and partner with another “big” B2B player alongside Hilton. The specialist said failure to partner with another company this year would mean something is “seriously wrong” with Amazon’s care model, and if Hilton were to back out of its deal, then it may need to re-think its healthcare options entirely. 

Continuing to earn “parity” with brick-and-mortar primary care physician clinics would help attract more B2B opportunities, as well as convince businesses of its suitability as a primary health provider. Developing technology that offers customers not just reactive but proactive care such as diagnosis would also help, and is the “next phase of the evolution” at Amazon Care – one the specialist said they are “excited” to witness.

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*Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services 

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