Amazon jumps on health care through telemedicine initiative

Amazon launched its first healthcare campaign, announcing Wednesday that it will be offering its Amazon Care telemedicine program to employers across the country.

Currently available to company employees in the state of Washington, Amazon Care is an app that connects users almost with doctors, nurses and nurses who can provide services and treatment over the phone 24 hours a day.

In the Seattle area, they are assisted by personal services such as drug delivery and home-based services from nurses who can take on blood transfusions and provide similar services.

On Wednesday, a technology company announced that it would immediately expand the service to interested employers in Washington who want to purchase the service for their employees.

In the summer, Amazon Care will expand nationally to all Amazon employees, as well as private employers across the country who want to join.

In the markets of Baltimore, Washington, DC, and northern Virginia, where Amazon is building a second headquarters to accommodate more than 25,000 employees, Amazon Care will also include in-person services currently limited to Seattle.

“Making this available to other employers is a big step,” Amazon Care Director Kristen Helton said in a telephone interview.

“It is an opportunity for some forward-thinking staff to provide a service that helps deliver quality care, convenience and peace of mind.”

Amazon introduced the service 18 months ago for its Washington employees. Helton said users had given it higher updates, and business customers were asking if they could afford to buy services from their employees.

Helton said the product is designed to be an auxiliary or additional benefit to the existing use provided by the employer.

Consumer demand for telemedicine and apparent health care has exploded during the epidemic. Stephen Morgan, a professor of medicine at Virginia Tech and chief medical officer at Carilion Clinic in southwestern Virginia, said the number of visits increased from about 100 a month before the epidemic to about 800 a day for two weeks.

He said research had shown that telemedicine could provide quality in line with traditional personal care, all while providing services to people who may not be able to access them or would have to travel long distances to do so.

But he said it was important for suppliers to create checks and balances to ensure quality was not deadly.

“It’s worrying that anyone who wants to do telemedicine, Amazon is included, they put in those checks and balances,” he said.

Helton said that when users log into the Amazon Care app, they are asked a few questions that work to reduce the call and pass it on to the nurse, nurse or doctor as appropriate. He said it usually takes 60 seconds or less to contact a health professional.

Healthcare providers are provided by Care Medical, a contractor working with Amazon on a special contract.

With Amazon launching programs in the health sector such as Amazon Pharmacy and Amazon Halo, a handbook that measures key statistics, Amazon Care will be the first to provide health services without its employees, Helton said.

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