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Will Amazon revolutionize care navigation like eCommerce?

A future with Amazon at the epicenter of healthcare is getting closer and closer as they continue to expand their market share. Amazon is a central part of our daily lives. Imagine a world where you ordered your next annual visit or mammogram the same way you order groceries or a box of diapers? How will consumer reviews influence patient decision-making and referrals? Will Amazon revolutionize care navigation the way it has with eCommerce?

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Amazon acquires startup Health Navigator to build on its Amazon Care program

Originally posted on Fierce Healthcare

By: Heather Landi

Tech giant Amazon has snapped up medical technology startup Health Navigator in an effort to boost healthcare offerings for its employees.

It's the company's second acquisition in the healthcare space following its 2018 acquisition of online pharmacy Pillpack for $753 million.

Health Navigator will become part of Amazon Care, a new virtual health service benefit for employees and their families in the Seattle region. The companies did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. 

The startup, founded in 2014 by David Thompson, provides preliminary and final diagnoses and treatments on its digital platform.

The new healthcare service is designed to help Amazon employees get fast access to healthcare without an appointment at the convenience of their schedules, at their preferred location, such as home, office or virtual, according to Amazon.

The service eliminates travel and wait times, connecting employees and their family members to a physician or nurse practitioner through live chat or video, with the option for in-person follow up services from a registered nurse ranging from immunizations to instant strep throat detection, according to the company.

Once news of the deal broke, first by CNBC's Chrissy Farr, industry stakeholders began speculating about what it will mean for care delivery and Amazon's ability to scale Amazon Care. Sam Zebarjadi, co-founder and CEO of healthcare technology firm Merit, tweeted, "Will Amazon be able to apply their same eCommerce principles to care navigation - aka can you get to the right point of care with X clicks in under 60 seconds?"

When Amazon announced its employee healthcare program in September it said the new service combines "the best of both virtual and in-person care" by offering virtual visits, in-person primary care visits at patients' homes or offices and prescription delivery. 

Officials said Amazon Care provides a mobile application to allow employees to access virtual and in-person healthcare services from its partner, Washington-based Oasis Medical Group P.C. 

The launch of Amazon Care comes just a year after news broke that Amazon planned to open primary care clinics at its Seattle headquarters. The technology company is in discussions to open clinics, hiring a small number of doctors for a limited group of employees by the end of this year. They have plans to expand in early 2019, the network reported.

Amazon has been rapidly expanding its reach in the healthcare space, most notably with its acquisition of PillPack last year. The tech company also sparked fevered speculation when it teamed up with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway on healthcare venture they've dubbed Haven

Earlier this year, Amazon began partnering with numerous healthcare companies, including several in California as well as the U.K.'s National Health Service, to let consumers and employees use Alexa for healthcare purposes. Recently, it has reportedly been making efforts to create "fitness tracking" earbuds that will be able to track measurements such as distance run, calories burned and pace of running.

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