Will healthcare be an Amazon Prime perk?

Amazon’s announcement Thursday that it’s splurging nearly $4 billion on a San Francisco healthcare supplier is attention-grabbing — and probably troublesome — on plenty of ranges.

The e-commerce behemoth is buying One Medical, a membership-based primary-care service that operates in over two-dozen U.S. markets and offers well being advantages to greater than 8,000 corporations.

The transfer follows Amazon’s 2018 buy of PillPack, a web-based pharmacy.

“We predict healthcare is excessive on the record of experiences that want reinvention,” Neil Lindsay, senior vice chairman of Amazon Well being Providers, mentioned in a press release.

“Reserving an appointment, ready weeks and even months to be seen, taking break day work, driving to a clinic, discovering a parking spot, ready within the ready room then the examination room for what is simply too typically a rushed jiffy with a physician, then making one other journey to a pharmacy — we see a lot of alternative to each enhance the standard of the expertise and give individuals again precious time of their days.”

That’s a reasonably sweeping agenda.

On the plus aspect, few corporations are as laser-focused on quantity crunching as Amazon. If any firm can squeeze financial savings and efficiencies out of the $4-trillion U.S. healthcare market, it’s Amazon.

The corporate’s tech prowess additionally positions it for a management function within the rising discipline of telehealth or telemedicine — consulting with a physician or nurse through telephone or video.

COVID-19 has proven telehealth to be a significant component in bettering entry to healthcare suppliers and easing the burden of in-office visits.

On the draw back, effectively, it’s Amazon, an organization that dominates each promote it enters.

A key issue right here is One Medical’s membership construction. If there’s something Amazon is aware of — and makes essentially the most of — it’s membership providers.

On the one hand, as Prime members know, this can be a method Amazon can provide cool offers to reward loyalty.

On the opposite, as Prime members know, membership necessities can restrict competitors and encourage monopolistic conduct.

At this level, I’m upbeat about Amazon’s give attention to being a serious healthcare participant.

Roughly a 3rd of all healthcare spending in america is now squandered on bureaucratic overhead. If Amazon’s knowledge experience can cut back that waste, this in principle can decrease prices for sufferers.

I’ve additionally misplaced hope that lawmakers will do something vital to handle the myriad issues with our largely for-profit medical system. There’s simply an excessive amount of cash being made by some very highly effective corporations for politicians to rock the boat.

Non-public-sector options appear extra possible underneath the circumstances.

The important thing factor now’s to intently watch Amazon’s strikes and subsequent offers, and to manage the market accordingly.

Once more, we spend $4 trillion a yr on healthcare. The stakes couldn’t probably be increased.

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