Amazon Care, online giant’s primary care health service, to close at end of 2022

Change comes weeks after company announces acquisition of One Medical primary care practice.

Amazon Care, the company’s sector devoted to primary care medicine, will close at the end of 2022.

Amazon Health Services Senior Vice President Neal Lindsay announced the decision to employees via email on Aug. 24. The online giant believes its vision for accessible primary care is “an important, missionary opportunity” that won’t be fast or easy, but that is important, Lindsay said in the email, which the company’s communications staff shared with Medical Economics.

Amazon Care launched in September 2019 with an expansion of in-person locations announced in February this year. Its stable of customers included some large businesses nationwide who enjoyed a “comprehensive solution; on-demand access to high-quality clinicians through Care Medical, Amazon Care’s clinical services provider; and a seamless patient experience,” according to the company.

“During that time, we’ve gathered and listened to extensive feedback from our enterprise customers and their employees, and evolved the service to continuously improve the experience for customers,” Lindsay wrote. “However, despite these efforts, we’ve determined that Amazon Care isn’t the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers, and have decided that we will no longer offer Amazon Care after December 31, 2022.

“This decision wasn’t made lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration,” Lindsay’s email said. “Although our enrolled members have loved many aspects of Amazon Care, it is not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have been targeting, and wasn’t going to work long-term.”’

Lindsay announced some staff will have opportunities to join Amazon’s Health Services or other teams, or the company will support those looking for other work. The emailed notice did not include exact details about possible layoffs.

Primary care frenzy

Lindsay did not mention by name Amazon’s next step into what is becoming an intensely competitive market for primary health care services. This summer, Amazon made national news when it announced the company would acquire One Medical, “a human-centered, technology-powered national primary care organization,” in a deal valued at $3.8 billion.

On Aug. 2, One Medical CEO Amir Dan Rubin published a blog entry stating nothing was changing yet for its operations while the deal was finalized, and One Medical was committed to protecting patients’ health data while providing high-quality and convenient health care. One Medical supplies benefits for more than 8,000 employer clients and has 790,000 members, with locations in 16 major metropolitan areas.

One Medical itself made headlines when the company in 2021 acquired Iora Health, which focused on serving the Medicare senior population. CVS, Rite Aid, Walgreens, Humana, Walmart and Amazon all have pledged to provide form of primary care via clinics, telehealth services or both.

It was unclear who will emerge with best conditions for physicians, patients, and investors, but “Amazon’s Foray into Primary Care Won’t Be Easy,” said David Blumenthal, MD, president of the Commonwealth Fund, which advocates for a high-performing, equitable health care system. Blumenthal and Fund Vice President Lovisa Gustafsson have taken to the Harvard Business Review to analyze the recent primary care frenzy.

‘Ripe for reinvention’

Lindsay’s email hinted the Amazon Care experience will influence the company going forward in a business sector “ripe for reinvention.”

“Our work building Amazon Care has deepened our understanding of what's needed long-term to deliver meaningful health care solutions for enterprise and individual customers,” Lindsay’s email said. “You’ve heard me say it before, but I believe the health care space is ripe for reinvention, and our efforts to help improve the health care experience can have an immensely positive impact on our quality of life and health outcomes. However, none of these reasons make this decision any easier for the teams that have helped to build Amazon Care, or for the customers our Care team serves.”