January 10, 2023 / Thought Leadership

Amazon’s Entry Into Convenient Healthcare

Michele Hart-Henry, Managing Director, Connelly Partners Health

Groceries, Electronics and Primary Care Visits – Amazon’s Newest Entry at Your Fingertips

A few years ago, convenient care meant visits to the retail walk-in clinic in pharmacy chains, big box stores and some grocery stores. COVID-19 brought new emphasis to telehealth visits, expanding the definition of “convenient” out of necessity. Amazon, which has long been making forays into healthcare, recently announced its entry into the world of convenient care – Amazon Clinic.

Amazon’s latest service literally puts the power of primary care in the palm of your hand. I recently tried it out. While efficient, my experience with Amazon Clinic needed more clarity and, more importantly, humanity. 

After a quick registration process, I started a brief, text-based health questionnaire about my visit and why I sought care. I then received a text stating that the healthcare practitioner would follow up with a treatment plan within four hours. Two minutes later, I received another text message from a nurse practitioner who said she would review my visit. After an additional  five minutes, she texted again to say that she couldn’t help me and that I’d need to visit my primary care physician.

After that, I received yet another text from the nurse practitioner informing me that my visit was under review. At that point, a physician, new to the visit, let me know that their treatment protocols had picked up on the word “dizzy” and kicked me out of their treatment locus. The doctor then said it was no problem to send a prescription for motion sickness patches to my pharmacy.

In multiple news stories about Amazon Clinic, company officials tout the convenience and ability to get treatment for about 20 lifestyle and non-urgent medical conditions. The company doesn’t take insurance for the visits, instead charging a flat fee by condition or treatment.

At the recent HLTH 2022 conference in Las Vegas, speaking about Amazon Clinic, Nworah Ayogu, M.D., Amazon’s chief medical officer, said that the online retail giant is “leading with its competency” of connecting customers to the products and services they want. “We’re connecting customers to providers who provide care. We’re playing matchmaker and building a great customer experience. It’s a win-win,” Ayogu said.

While Amazon Clinic uses the term “visit” to describe the exchange, it’s essentially a transaction driven by pre-determined protocols and algorithms with minimal human intervention. Depending on your needs, that could be a flaw in the offering. It is a convenient route for some types of ordinary care; however, Amazon’s connections are superficial compared to traditional care relationships among practitioners and patients. 

Connecting people to the care, products, services and therapies they need to reach their life’s goals is critical in our approach to healthcare marketing at Connelly Partners Health. Furthermore, we lead with empathy and humanity to do so. 

Will I use it again? Probably. It’s a viable option for some routine, non-urgent care needs. But, for most things, I prefer my care with a decidedly more human touch.