Service sector

Amazon to shut down virtual health service Amazon Care

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon is shutting down the hybrid virtual home care service it spent years developing, a surprising move that underscores the challenges it faces as it ventures into health care.

The service, called Amazon Care, will end on December 31, according to an email sent to staff by Neil Lindsay, senior vice president of Amazon Health Services.

Amazon Care was launched in 2019 for Seattle, Washington-based Amazon employees, who served as test users before the company made it available to employees in all 50 states. Last year.

The service connects patients virtually with doctors and nurses who can provide care around the clock. It has no physical location, but offers in-person services for things like vaccinations and blood tests. flu screening in several cities, including Seattle and Washington, D.C.

Amazon’s decision to unplug Amazon Care is even more surprising given that the company announced in February that it plans to expand the in-person care service to 20 more cities. Last summer, Amazon also began offering the service to private employers nationwide.

In the email sent to staff, Lindsay wrote that Amazon listened to employer feedback and worked to improve Amazon Care.

“However, despite these efforts, we have determined that Amazon Care is not the right long-term solution for our business customers,” Lindsay wrote.

He added that Amazon Care “isn’t a comprehensive enough offering for the large businesses we’re targeting and wasn’t going to work long term.”

An Amazon spokesperson declined to say how many people would lose their jobs as Amazon Care closed.

Amazon Care isn’t the company’s first failed healthcare effort. The tech and retail giant was also part of a short-lived collaboration with JPMorgan and Berkshire Hathaway to improve healthcare costs. The three corporate giants formed an independent company called Haven to focus on improving care and managing expenses, but it disbanded last year.

Despite the setbacks, Amazon has not relented on its focus on healthcare. Last month, it announced plans to spend $3.9 billion to buy primary care organization One Medical, a membership-based service that offers virtual care as well as in-person visits. As of March, One Medical had approximately 767,000 members and 188 medical practices in 25 markets.

Neil Saunders, managing director of GlobalData Retail, said that as Amazon now invests in other health areas, it is taking a more aggressive stance on releasing things that don’t deliver results.

“The shutdown underscores how difficult it is to break into the healthcare market,” Saunders said. “It serves as a warning that even with acquisitions, Amazon’s attempt to shake up the industry will be incredibly difficult and possibly costly.”