Nov. 15, 2022 – Amazon launched its latest version of virtual medical care on Tuesday in 32 states. Called Amazon Clinic, the service skips phone and video calls and instead works through secure messaging between patients and providers. 

“Amazon Clinic is a convenient virtual care option that offers up-front pricing, and treatment within hours, instead of days,” the company announced

The service is intended for common and typically straightforward health needs, offering a list of about 20 conditions, ranging from sinusitis to seasonal allergies. Patients with some established conditions can also seek medication refills, such as for migraines and asthma.

“Sometimes you just need a quick interaction with a clinician for a common health concern that can be easily addressed virtually,” Amazon’s announcement explained.

The service does not accept insurance and works on a fee basis that includes follow-up messages with providers for up to 2 weeks. After paying Amazon directly, patients can submit receipts for to get reimbursed by their insurer if they have one.

Visit costs vary by state, condition type, and provider. Patients visit the Amazon Clinic website, select the type of condition they are seeking treatment for, and enter their state. Then, provider options and costs are displayed, plus a link to learn more about each provider. Wait times for receiving a first response from a provider are also published.

For example, a consultation regarding heartburn for a patient in Connecticut costs $47, and on a recent weekday morning, a first response from a provider may take up to 5 hours. Some conditions require a prior diagnosis, such as eczema. The consultation for eczema in Colorado would cost either $30 or $31, depending on which provider is selected by the patient.

A list of the 32 states where the service is up and running has not been published, and it appears prospective patients must enter their location on the Amazon Clinic website to learn whether the service is available in their area. (On its website, Amazon Clinic stated the service is not available in some states because of laws about virtual visits.)

Amazon’s foray into health care is evolving. It offers a pharmacy service and recently signed a deal to acquire One Medical’s telehealth service and brick-and-mortar primary care clinics, Becker’s Hospital Review reported. Amazon is shutting down its telehealth service known as Amazon Care by the end of the year, the company said. 

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SOURCES:

Amazon: “Amazon Clinic will operate in 32 states and provide virtual care for more than 20 common health conditions, such as allergies, acne, and hair loss.”

Becker’s Hospital Review: “Healthcare seen as safe bet in Amazon's cost-cutting review.”

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