Health

Amazon to shutter virtual health care service Amazon Care

NEW YORK — Amazon is shutting down the hybrid virtual, in-home care service it’s spent years growing, a stunning transfer that underscores the challenges it faces because it strikes into health care.

The service, known as Amazon Care, will finish by Dec. 31, in accordance to an e-mail despatched to workers by Neil Lindsay, senior vp of Amazon Health Services.

Amazon Care was launched in 2019 for Seattle-based Amazon’s Washington state workers, who served as trial customers earlier than the company made it obtainable final year to its staff in all 50 states.

The service connects sufferers just about with medical doctors and nurses who can present remedy 24 hours a day. It doesn’t have bodily areas, however provides in-person companies for issues like vaccinations and flu testing in a number of cities, together with Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Amazon’s determination to pull the plug on Amazon Care is much more stunning given the company stated in February it was planning to develop the in-person care service to embody 20 extra cities. Last summer time, Amazon additionally started providing the service to personal employers nationwide.

In the e-mail despatched to workers, Lindsay wrote that Amazon listened to suggestions from employers and labored to enhance Amazon Care.

“However, despite these efforts, we’ve determined that Amazon Care isn’t the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers,” Lindsay wrote.

He added that Amazon Care “is not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have been targeting, and wasn’t going to work long-term.”

An Amazon spokesperson declined to say how many people will lose their jobs because of the shutdown of Amazon Care.

Amazon Care isn’t the company’s first failed health effort. The tech and retail giant was also part of a short-lived collaboration with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway to improve health care costs. The three corporate giants formed an independent company called Haven to focus on improving care and manage expenses, but it dissolved last year.

Despite the setbacks, Amazon hasn’t relented on its focus on healthcare. Last month, it announced plans to spend $3.9 billion to buy the primary care organization One Medical, a membership-based service that offers virtual care as well as in-person visits. As of March, One Medical had about 767,000 members and 188 medical offices in 25 markets.

Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail, said given that Amazon is now investing in other areas of health, it is taking a more aggressive stance on exiting things that are not delivering results.

“The closure underlines how hard making inroads into the health market is,” Saunders stated. “It serves as a warning that even with acquisitions, Amazon’s bid to shake up the sector will be incredibly difficult and possibly expensive.”

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