Amazon is ending its health care service, Amazon Care

Back in February, Amazon said it expected to roll out in-person services to 20 new cities this year.

 Amazon is shutting down its fledgling health care service, Amazon Care, at the end of this year. Shown is an Amazon facility in Sunnyvale, California. (photo credit: DREAMSTIME/TNS)
Amazon is shutting down its fledgling health care service, Amazon Care, at the end of this year. Shown is an Amazon facility in Sunnyvale, California.
(photo credit: DREAMSTIME/TNS)

Amazon is shutting down its fledgling health care service, Amazon Care, at the end of this year.

Amazon launched Amazon Care in 2019 as a pilot program for its Seattle-area employees before expanding to other employers in Washington and nationwide. The service incorporates a telehealth app, prescription delivery and the option to schedule a visit with a physician at patients' homes and offices. In February, Amazon said it expected to roll out in-person services to 20 new cities this year.

So what happened?

Neil Lindsay, senior vice president for Amazon Health Services, told employees Wednesday the company had determined "Amazon Care isn't the right long-term solution for our enterprise customers.

"This decision wasn't made lightly and only became clear after many months of careful consideration," he wrote. "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."

An Amazon logo is seen at its centre in Darlington, County Durham, Britain September 3, 2020 (credit: LEE SMITH / REUTERS)An Amazon logo is seen at its centre in Darlington, County Durham, Britain September 3, 2020 (credit: LEE SMITH / REUTERS)

What are Amazon's other holdings? 

The announcement to end Amazon Care comes shortly after the company committed $3.9 billion to acquire One Medical, a primary care provider that has offices in Seattle and serves about 767,000 people nationwide. That deal is still subject to regulatory approval.

Lindsay said at the time Amazon saw an opportunity to improve the "quality of experience and give people back valuable time in their day."

"Everybody wants to do health care and there's a lot of inefficiencies in health care, so a lot of efficient companies think they can do better," Jonathan Weiner, a professor of health policy and management at Johns Hopkins University, told The Seattle Times after the One Medical announcement. "Nobody would ignore Amazon in terms of possibly succeeding in those spaces."

What has Amazon done already?

Already, Amazon has its own wearable device, Halo, to monitor sleep and activity, as well as its own pharmaceutical service and COVID-19 testing labs. Health care providers, insurance companies and IT professionals already use Amazon Web Services, the company's cloud computing arm, to store and process health information.

In 2018, Amazon partnered with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway to form a new venture, Haven, intending to overhaul employee health care and improve costs. Haven dissolved quietly in 2021.

Now, Amazon is among a list of bidders competing to acquire Signify Health, a home health technology and services provider.

Building Amazon Care has "deepened our understanding" of what's needed to deliver health care solutions, Lindsay wrote in the memo to employees this week — and shutting it down doesn't mean Amazon is stepping away from the industry.

"You've heard me say it before, but I believe the healthcare 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," he wrote.

"As we take our learnings from Amazon Care, we will continue to invent, learn from our customers and industry partners, and hold ourselves to the highest standards as we further help reimagine the future of health care."

Amazon will stop offering Amazon Care after Dec. 31. Employees working on Amazon Care will have the opportunity to join other parts of Amazon's health services organization or other teams at the company.