Amazon Launches Virtual Health Clinic
Aside to the ways technology has transformed how consumers shop, travel and bank, it has yet to make a breakthrough into the healthcare sector. This is evident in the modest adoption of digitally enabled tools for treatment and diagnosis. However, technology in itself isn’t the issue. This is because healthcare tasks have been automated or digitally enhanced for decades. Instead, the barriers to a digital transformation in healthcare are often decidedly non-technological.
President and CEO of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) considers a change of culture to be the biggest obstacle in the industry’s digital transformation. Specifically, it takes a concerted effort among stakeholders to overcome those barriers. Mobile health – the practice of healthcare supported by mobile devices – is often regarded as the future of digital services in healthcare. More notably, there exists a demand for mobile healthcare applications, and it is strongest among young people.
Tech giant Amazon on Tuesday, 18th February, joined the game with the introduction of the company’s virtual health clinic. The virtual medical service is available as of Tuesday to Amazon’s staff working under the corporate headquarters via its employee’s portal. The app offers virtual medical consultations as well as options to arrange for a follow-up visit from a health practitioner to a patient’s office or home.
Amazon further revealed that the app is equipped with the ability to have prescriptions delivered to the patient’s residence. Employees whose zip code are covered by Amazon Care will be able to download the app and use it. By connecting employees and their families to a health professional through live or video chat will result in the elimination of travel and waiting time. Besides, the option for in-person follow up session offers a variety of services ranging from instant sore throat detection or vaccinations.
Its care providers, including the nurses and doctors are official employees of a separate entity, known as Oasis Medical. That provision further ensures that Amazon will not possess information about its employees’ health that it is not legally entitled to have. Although the service is limited to Amazon employees in Seattle today, the firm has expressed plans to offer it to other companies or the general public should it succeed in improving employee's satisfaction and bringing down costs. However, as of now, no plans are made to expand beyond Seattle to its other offices.
Amazon isn’t the only technology company to set up its own primary care clinics for its employees. Apple has its own clinics, namely AC Wellness, which are meant to provide quality care to employees working in its California headquarters. More broadly speaking, Amazon Care makes up one part of Amazon’s overall health care strategy. As an employer, it is collaborating with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan on an initiative called Haven. The project aims to reduce costs and improve the quality of healthcare for the firm’s 1.2 million employees.
By Caroline Wong
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