- Amazon has launched a new health service called Amazon Clinic.
- This involves consulting a health care provider via text message for prescriptions.
- It is currently not covered by insurance.
Retail giant Amazon is re-entering the healthcare market after shutting down a previous offering called Amazon Care earlier this year.
The new offering is supposed to be more consumer-oriented and is called Amazon Clinic.
After the tech giant ended its Amazon Care program, company executives explained that the service failed to “take hold” with enterprise customers, Fierce Healthcare reported.
The new service is a message-based online health service offering treatment for a wide range of health conditions, including male pattern hair loss, urinary tract infections (UTIs) and acne.
“Amazon Clinic is just one of the ways we are working to empower people to take control of their health by giving them access to convenient, affordable care in partnership with trusted providers,” the company wrote in a blog post.
According to Amazon, you start by selecting your state, choosing your preferred provider from a list of licensed and qualified telehealth providers, then completing a short intake questionnaire.
After that, you will be able to connect anytime with your clinician for a message consultation using a secure message portal.
You will then receive a personalized treatment plan via the portal, including all necessary prescriptions sent to your preferred pharmacy – or you can use Amazon Pharmacy.
The service does not yet accept insurance so consultations will not be covered by insurance.
But if you get a prescription and it’s covered by your insurance, you should be able to use your health coverage to pay for this drug at Amazon Pharmacy or any other pharmacy.
Amazon’s new service is only available in 32 states; however, the company did not specify which states in the blog post.
“I understand the first iteration is text-based and not full telehealth which requires two-way audio-video,” Iris Berman, RN, MSN, CCRN, vice president of telehealth services for Northwell Health, told Healthline.
She noted that the text provides “very limited information for a limited population” who are “fairly healthy” overall and whose main complaint appears be straightforward.
“The other issue I see is the inability for a patient to have that visit recorded in their medical record where they can receive more advanced care,” Berman said.
Berman emphasized that a well-designed telehealth encounter should allow for “minimum” audio interaction and, more often, audio-visual.
“It allows you to assess a patient’s appearance, facial expression, body language, even their home environment and tone of voice,” she explained. “In Amazon’s current state, its use is very specific and limited.”
However, Amazon’s new service serves an important niche.
“There’s no question there’s a need that they’re filling, to easily get brief episodic care,” Berman said.
Amazon Clinic targets a particular population but risks “fragmenting care,” Berman warned.
She pointed out that health systems are currently working hard to offer this type of care in a more holistic way in order to offer a real “home of health”.
“Where care is not just episodic, but holistic, across the continuum, and where there is choice,” Berman noted. “If you value a relationship with your healthcare provider, the Amazon model is not the answer for you.”
“Amazon has declared that its Amazon Clinic platform complies with federal law
“Compliance with HIPAA will prevent the sharing of patients’ identifiable medical information,” she confirmed.
She added that there may be other data collection and tracking systems monitoring how consumers interact with the platform that do not violate HIPAA, and could help inform Amazon’s business model. especially future strategic investments in healthcare.
“If the Amazon Clinic expands in the future, additional consumer privacy considerations with digital health devices, such as wearables and their associated apps, could be an area to watch,” Sklar said.
Skar said data breaches can happen with telemedicine.
“A medical record breach occurs any time protected health information is accessed without authorization,” Sklar explained.
She explained that in the event of a data breach, it could affect a large patient population and could include sensitive information such as medical history, diagnosis and medications, as well as personal and financial data.
“HIPAA penalties vary depending on the severity of the issue and how the covered entity failed to protect the health information, ie; Did the Covered Entity take adequate steps to prevent a medical information data breach and, if a breach did occur, did the Entity make appropriate corrections in a timely manner? Sklar said.
According to Sklar, penalties can range from $100 to $50,000 per individual violation, with a maximum penalty of up to $1.5 million.
“Amazon Clinic and other companies looking to work with telehealth providers across states will increasingly review national data privacy laws as well as HIPAA compliance,” she said. .
Amazon recently launched Amazon Clinic, an SMS-based telehealth service that offers diagnosis and treatment for many different, non-serious health conditions.
Experts say that ideally telehealth should enable audio consultation, that audio-visual interaction is best.
They also say Amazon will comply with patient privacy laws, like HIPPA, to protect private medical information.