Amazon is shutting down its telehealth service, Amazon Care, marking a major setback for the retail giant in its push to break into the healthcare space.
Amazon will shut down the service after Dec. 31, Neil Lindsay, head 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 business customers,” Lindsay wrote in the memo, which was previously reported by GeekWire.
“This decision was not taken lightly and only became clear after several months of careful consideration,” Lindsay said. “While our registered members loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it’s not a comprehensive enough offering for the large enterprise customers we’re targeting and wasn’t going to work long term.”
Even though the service is ending, Amazon has gained a better understanding of “what is needed over the long term to deliver meaningful healthcare solutions to businesses and individuals” through its rollout of Amazon Care, 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 urgent care visits, as well as free telehealth consultations and paid home visits from nurses for tests 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 that was attended by health industry heavyweights, CNBC reported. This then hired a small group of doctors to start a pilot clinic for some employees.
In February, the company deployed Amazon Care virtual offers nationwide for its employees and other businesses, signaling that it has bigger ambitions for the service.
It’s unclear how much traction Amazon Care had gained. Last June, Babak Parviz, a vice president working at Amazon Care, said Amazon had attracted several companies interested in using the service. Its corporate clients include Hilton, Silicon Labs, TrueBlue and Whole Foods, the company-owned upscale grocer.
Amazon is ending the service even as CEO Andy Jassy pledges to make inroads in the healthcare sector. Last month, Amazon acquired boutique primary care provider One Medical for $3.9 billion. He also sought to develop medical diagnosis at home. And earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported Amazon bids for the home health service provider Signify health.
Here is the full note to employees:
The health services team,
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, but we believe it’s important.
One of the ways we have worked towards this vision over the past few years has been with our urgent and primary care service offering, Amazon Care. During this time, we have collected and listened to extensive feedback from our corporate customers and their employees, and have evolved the service to continuously improve the customer experience. However, despite these efforts, we have determined that Amazon Care is not the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers and have decided to no longer offer Amazon Care after December 31, 2022.
This decision was not taken lightly and only became clear after several months of careful consideration. While our registered members have loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it’s not a comprehensive enough offering for the large enterprise customers we’re targeting and wasn’t going to work long term.
Our work building Amazon Care has deepened our understanding of what is needed over the long term to deliver meaningful healthcare solutions to businesses and individuals. You’ve heard me say this 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 lives and our health outcomes. None of these reasons, however, makes this decision any easier for the teams that helped build Amazon Care, or for the customers our Care team serves.
Our priority right now is to accompany you, whatever path you take. Many Care employees will have the opportunity to join other parts of the health services organization or other Amazon teams – which we’ll be discussing with many of you shortly – and we will also be supporting employees looking for positions outside the company.
To the Amazon Care and Care Medical teams, thank you for all your hard work over the past few years. You should be very proud of what this team has been able to accomplish in such a short time. I also thank our members and commercial customers for entrusting their care to us; it is not a responsibility we take lightly. As we learn from Amazon Care, we will continue to invent, learn from our customers and industry partners, and hold ourselves to the highest standards while helping to reinvent the future of Health care.