Amazon announces new virtual healthcare service to help with allergies, acne and hair loss

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Andy Jassy, CEO of Amazon, speaks at the ceremonial ribbon cutting prior to tomorrow’s opening night for the NHL’s newest hockey franchise the Seattle Kraken at the Climate Pledge Arena on October 22, 2021, in Seattle.
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Amazon is expanding its healthcare offerings following its deal to buy One Medical, this time by opening a new virtual care option to help with common conditions like allergies, acne and hair loss.

Amazon Clinic, unveiled on Tuesday, will allow patients in 32 states to message clinicians through a secure portal to seek personalized treatments and prescriptions for common conditions. Patients can seek birth control options and care for urinary tract infections, dandruff, migraines and more.

The service does not yet accept insurance, but customers can use insurance to help pay for medications prescribed by a licensed clinician through the platform. The company said those prescriptions may be filled by any pharmacy but added that Amazon Pharmacy would also be an option.

To use the service, customers select the condition they’re interested in speaking about and then choose a preferred provider. After completing a questionnaire, they’ll connect with a clinician in a secure messaging portal to respond at the customer’s convenience. Amazon said if a condition isn’t suitable to be treated through the service, it will let customers know that before they connect with a provider.

Two weeks of follow-up messages are included with the cost of the initial consultation, which Amazon said in “many cases” would be equal to or less than the cost of the average copay. Customers can also use money from flexible spending accounts and healthcare spending accounts to pay for the service.

The new program comes just a few months after Amazon announced it was shutting down Amazon Care, a different telehealth service, by the end of the year. That program, which launched in 2019 as a pilot for employees, provided virtual urgent care and offered in-home visits from nurses for a fee to perform testing and vaccinations.

Amazon Health Services lead Neil Lindsay said in an email announcing the shutdown that Amazon Care was “not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have been targeting, and wasn’t going to work long-term.” 

Amazon’s healthcare ventures have raised concern among some regulators and lawmakers about how it will use and protect sensitive information. The company said in its Amazon Clinic announcement that it has “stringent customer privacy policies and comply with HIPAA and all other applicable laws and regulations.”

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