Amazon is discontinuing the hybrid virtual, in-home care service it has spent years developing, a surprising move that highlights the challenges it faces as it expands into Amazon Health Care Service.
According to Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services, the service, known as Amazon Care, will be phased out by December 31.
Amazon Care was launched in 2019 for Seattle-based Amazon’s Washington state employees as a trial user before the company made it available to all 50 states’ employees last year.
The service virtually connects patients with doctors and nurses who can provide treatment 24 hours a day, seven days a week. It doesn’t have any physical locations, but in a number of cities, like Seattle and Washington, D.C, it offers services like vaccinations and flu tests in person.
Amazon’s decision to discontinue Amazon Care is all the more surprising given that the company announced in February that it intended to expand the in-person Amazon Health Care Service to 20 additional cities. In the summer of 2017, Amazon started providing the service to private enterprises around the country.
Amazon Listened To Employer Feedback
Lindsay wrote in an email to employees that Amazon listened to employer feedback and worked to improve Amazon Care.
According to Lindsay stated, “but, despite these efforts, we’ve judged that Amazon Care isn’t the ideal long-term answer for our commercial customers.”
He also mentioned Amazon Care “isn’t a comprehensive enough offering for the large enterprise customers we’ve been pursuing, and it wasn’t going to work in the long run.
An Amazon spokesperson declined to say how many people will lose their jobs as a result of the Amazon Care shutdown.
Amazon Care is not the company’s first failed healthcare initiative. The tech and retail behemoths also participated in a brief collaboration with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway to reduce healthcare costs. The three corporate behemoths form an independent company. Because called Haven to focus on improving care and controlling costs, but it was dissolve last year.
Despite the setbacks, Amazon remains committed to healthcare. It said last month that it would spend USD 3.9 billion to buy One Medical, a membership-based service that offers both in-person and online care. As of March, One Medical had about 767,000 members and 188 medical offices in 25 cities.
Amazon Is Taking More Aggressive Stance
According to Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail, Amazon is taking a more aggressive stance on exciting things that are not delivering results now that it is investing in other areas of health.
According to Saunders, “The closure shows how tough it is to make inroads into the health sector.” It serves as a warning that, even with acquisitions, Amazon’s attempt to shake up the industry will be extremely difficult and potentially costly.