Amazon is poised to build out more specialty care programs this year to complement its virtual and primary care services, Tom Kiesau, leader of digital health at healthcare advisory firm The Chartis Group, told Managed Healthcare Executive.
The company could strengthen its offerings in orthopedics and pain management, he said, and it may partner with traditional healthcare providers for additional in-person care. Amazon Care, which has telehealth and in-person options in select locations, currently provides services for back, neck and joint pain.
If patients need a higher level of care than what Amazon can offer, its care coordinators work with them to schedule a visit with specialists.
Amazon's role in healthcare is far from solidified. The company pulled out of Haven, its joint venture with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, last year after Amazon failed to make traction with its goal of disrupting the healthcare delivery system. David Jacofsky, MD, of The CORE Institute in Phoenix, told Becker's that Amazon has a role to play in healthcare, but it's not the company's strength.
"Physicians drive much of the value in healthcare, or lack thereof, and unless a model incentivizes them for value, it is hard to move the needle," Dr. Jacofsky said. "Likewise, incentives of payers, patients, hospitals and providers may be maligned in many of these models, which makes traction difficult. Therefore, the traditional Amazon model of providing data to end consumers to make cost-effective decisions might not make total sense in healthcare. This is further complicated by the fact that there does not generally exist national datasets with standardized definitions and attribution models, such that value is clear to a patient or employer and such that data science can be applied to the datasets in traditional ways."