In a surprising move, Amazon will shutter Amazon care, the hybrid virtual and in-home care service after it spent years developing it which underscores the challenges it faces as it moved into healthcare, according to news agency The Associated Press.
Amazon Care services will be closed by December 31, according to an email sent to staff by Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services as quoted by AP.
The healthcare services at Amazon were launched in 2019 for Seattle-based Amazon’s Washington state employees, who served as trial users before the company made it available last year to its workers in all 50 states.
This decision is more surprising given the company had earlier said that it was planning to expand the in-person care service in February to include 20 additional cities. Last year, it also began offering the service to private employees nationwide.
Basically, the service connects patients virtually with doctors and nurses who can provide the treatment for the required problem 24 hours a day. However, it does not have physical locations but offers in-person services for things like vaccination, flu testing, etc.
In an email sent to staff as quoted by AP, Lindsay said that Amazon listened to many feedbacks from employers and worked for the betterment of Amazon Care services.
However, despite many efforts, the company has determined that Amazon Care is not the right long-term solution for its enterprise customers, Lindsay wrote.
He further said that Amazon Care is not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers it has been targeting and was not going to work in long run.
Meanwhile, an Amazon spokesperson refused to reveal the number of people who will lose their jobs because of the shutdown of Amazon Care.
The agency also reported that Amazon Care is not 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 its health care costs.
These three corporate giants formed an independent company Haven to focus on improving health care services and managing expenses, but it dissolved last year.
Despite the setbacks, the company has not relented on its focus on healthcare. It also announced plans to spend USD 3.9 billion to buy the primary care organization One Medical last month.
One Medical is a membership-based service that offers virtual care as well as in-person visits. Till March this year, it had about 767,000 members and 188 medical offices in 25 markets.
Neil Saunders, managing director at GlobalData Retail said that the closure underlines how hard making inroads into the health market is. It also serves as a warning that even with acquisitions, Amazon’s bid to shake up the sector will be difficult and possibly expensive, he added.
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