Some Amazon employees and their families in Seattle now have access to a new app called Amazon Care, a program that provides users with access to health professionals over video chat and text. The move comes as Amazon has sought to cut internal health costs even as it’s continued to muscle into the growing health care market.
Amazon is partnering with a Washington state-based company called Oasis Medical Group to provide the telemedicine service to its employees in Seattle, but there are plans to expand coverage to other employees. A message sent to Amazon employees about the new program said: “we’re looking forward to helping build and scale the benefit to meet the needs of more employees in the months and years ahead.” The news was first reported by CNBC.
The pilot project comes as the retail giant increasingly moves into the health care space. Last year the company acquired PillPack, an online pharmacy. And earlier this year it partnered with six health care organizations interested in developing Alexa skills capable of handling patient information.
The company has also been focused on the health of its internal health insurance program. Last year, it teamed up with Berkshire Hathaway and JP Morgan to create a new health care company for the three organizations’ employees, a move that was explicitly designed to combat rising health care costs. That decision was cheered by telemedicine companies soon after the announcement, who anticipated a shift toward virtual services, like Amazon Care.