Amazon shutting down its virtual health care service

Amazon is shutting down its virtual and in-home health care service Amazon Care by the end of the year, citing issues with the program’s ability to connect with larger companies and more customers.

Neil Lindsay, Amazon Health Services senior vice president, sent an email to Amazon Care employees on Wednesday announcing the move, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill. Lindsay said the decision to close the service was made after “many months of careful consideration.”

“Although our enrolled members have loved many aspects of Amazon Care,” Lindsay wrote in the memo, “it is not a complete enough offering for the large enterprise customers we have been targeting, and wasn’t going to work long-term.”

Amazon Care, which launched in 2019 as a pilot program for employees in Seattle, Wash., provides telehealth and on-demand services from a diverse team of clinicians. Nurses and providers do not have physical locations or offices to work out of.

Amazon has grown increasingly focused on the health care sector, acquiring the company PillPack and rebranding it as Amazon Pharmaceuticals in 2020.

Last month, Amazon acquired One Medical for nearly $4 billion. One Medical operates 188 medical offices in 25 markets.

Amazon Care has also remained a focus until Wednesday’s announcement. In February, Amazon announced the health care service was rolling out virtually nationwide and in-person care would extend to 20 cities in the country.

And in an April letter to shareholders, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy listed Amazon Care as an “iterative innovation.”

Still, Amazon Care faced competition from Aetna, Cigna, Humana and Kaiser Permanente, which also have virtual services.

The Washington Post reported about internal strife at Amazon Care last week. Some employees have complained about the company prioritizing the business over health care services.

Several nurses told the newspaper they grew alarmed over Amazon Care’s inability to actually help patients because they did not have adequate resources or physical locations to operate from.

In Wednesday’s memo, Lindsay said employees should be proud of what they have accomplished but noted the decision was based on the fact the service was not the “right long-term solution for our enterprise customers.”

“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 wrote. “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.”