Telemedicine from Amazon
Amazon announced on Wednesday it is expanding its telemedicine service to employees in all 50 US states. The company is also making Amazon Care services available to other employers. Shares in rivals Teladoc Health, American Well and others fell.
Amazon said in a statement, "Amazon Care launches in the US this summer, offering millions of people and their families immediate access to high-quality medical care and advice 24 hours a day, 365 days a year."
The COVID-19 pandemic has made online medical advice services extremely popular, with no loss of relevance once the coronavirus is defeated, as it saves time travelling to the doctor and waiting in clinics. Amazon Care's business today consists of three main services: online consultations (via video call and chat), home visits by medical staff and home delivery of medicines, a business that has already been launched by the company in November 2020.
On the back of the news, Amazon shares closed with a significant gain of 1.4% on Wednesday. This is a positive development when you consider that Amazon's share price has barely changed in the last half year, after gaining a strong 74% rise in 2020.
Analysts noted that in addition to lowering its own employee health care costs, Amazon could build a big new business that would create another revenue stream for the giant company.
Amazon said its offline Amazon Care service will expand to Washington, D.C., Baltimore and other cities in the coming months. Services will include COVID-19 and flu testing, vaccinations and more.
As for Amazon telemedicine, the company says the consultations will address multiple requests, and in addition to treating illnesses and injuries, will include help with wellness, better nutrition, sexual health, pregnancy planning and management, help with smoking cessation and more.
In addition, the cost of Amazon Care is not yet known, so it is difficult to assess its competitiveness against peers in the market and predict future revenues.