Amazon shuts down its telehealth service, Amazon Care, a major pullout for the retail giant in its efforts to break into healthcare.
Amazon will shut down the service after Dec. 31, Neil Lindsay, leader of Amazon Health Services, announced in a company email on Wednesday. The e-commerce giant decided to make the move after determining it wasn’t “the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers,” Lindsay wrote in the memo, previously reported by GeekWire.
“This decision was not taken lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration,” Lindsay said. “While our enrolled members have enjoyed many aspects of Amazon Care, it’s not a comprehensive enough offering for the large enterprise customers we target, and it wouldn’t work in the long run.”
While the service is being discontinued, the rollout of Amazon Care has provided Amazon with a better understanding of “what it takes in the long term to provide meaningful healthcare solutions for enterprises and individual customers,” Lindsay wrote in the memo.
Amazon Care launched in 2019 as a pilot program for employees in and around the company’s headquarters in Seattle. The service offers virtual emergency care visits, as well as free telehealth consultations and home visits for a fee from nurses for testing and vaccinations.
The service was several years in the making. In 2017, Amazon held a secret meeting in Seattle to learn more about patient care, attended by healthcare heavyweights, CNBC reported:. It then hired a small group of doctors to start a pilot clinic for a few employees.
In February, the company rolled out Amazon Care’s virtual offerings across the country for its employees and other businesses indicate that it had bigger ambitions for the service.
It’s unclear how much traction Amazon Care has gained. Last June, Babak Parviz, a vice president working on Amazon Care, said Amazon had attracted several companies interested in using the service. Corporate clients include Hilton, Silicon Labs, TrueBlue and Whole Foods, the company-owned luxury grocer.
Amazon is shutting down the service even after CEO Andy Jassy has pledged to push into healthcare. Last month, Amazon acquired boutique primary care provider One Medical for $3.9 billion. It has also attempted developing medical diagnostics at home. And earlier this week The Wall Street Journal reported Amazon is bidding for home care provider Meaning health.
Here’s the entire memo to employees:
We are working on an important missionary opportunity. Our vision is to make it easier for people to access the healthcare products and services they need to get and stay healthy. We know it won’t be easy or quick to achieve this, but we believe it matters.
One of the ways we’ve worked toward this vision in recent years is with our emergency and primary care offering, Amazon Care. During that time, we have gathered extensive feedback and listened to our corporate customers and their employees, and have further developed the service to continuously improve the experience for customers. However, despite these efforts, we have determined that Amazon Care is not the right long-term solution for our business customers and we have decided that we will no longer offer Amazon Care after December 31, 2022.
This decision was not taken lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration. While our enrolled members loved many aspects of Amazon Care, the offering isn’t complete enough for the large business customers we’re targeting, and it wouldn’t work in the long run.
Our work building Amazon Care has deepened our understanding of what it takes in the long term to provide meaningful healthcare solutions for enterprises and individual customers. You’ve heard me say it before, but I believe the healthcare space is ripe for reinvention, and our efforts to help improve the healthcare experience can have a hugely positive impact on our quality of life and health outcomes. However, none of these reasons make this decision any easier for the teams who helped build Amazon Care, or for the customers our Care team serves.
Our priority right now is to support you no matter the path you take. Many Care employees will have the opportunity to join other parts of the Health Services organization or other teams at Amazon – which we will discuss with many of you shortly – and we will also support employees looking for positions outside Company.
To the Amazon Care and Care Medical teams, thank you for all your hard work over the years. You can be very proud of what this team has managed to achieve in a short time. I am also grateful to our members and corporate clients for entrusting their care to us; this is not a responsibility we take lightly. As we learn our lessons from Amazon Care, we will continue to invent, learn from our customers and industry partners, and hold ourselves to the highest standards as we continue to help reshape the future of healthcare.