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How Will Amazon Approach U.S. Primary Care?

Amazon includes a playbook for reinventing businesses that it enters. It offers simplifying processes, experimenting to find out which new approaches work best, and continuously recombining its existing assets to create an easier way to accomplish things. Chances are to utilize this same approach in attempting to transform primary care in the usa. Which means that its $3.9 billion acquisition of 1 Medical marks the start, not the finish, of its efforts.

Amazons recent announcement of its deal to get One Medical for $3.9 billion generated a wave of speculation on what the tech giant might transform primary care in the usa. Will it create a healthcare system that’s as accessible as Amazons website one which offers services and products at the click of the button? Maybe it might employ artificial intelligence that may combine several individual patients data to greatly help them identify and regularly have the services, medicines, foods, along with other supplies they have to get over an illness or even to remain healthy. Or use smart devices that could nudge visitors to take their medications or exercise.

Even though Whither healthcare? question is fascinating to ponder, it’s the wrong someone to ask. Nobody not Amazon knows the solution to it.

Given the complexity of healthcare in the usa, any meaningful change will need time. As innovative as Amazon has been respect to creating seamless customer experiences, leveraging data, and developing new technologies, probably the most critical facet of its playbook for entering new businesses is that it expects its work to devote some time. Actually, Amazons founder Jeff Bezos has famously and repeatedly noted this dependence on patience through the entire companys history. (Disclosure: Among us, Robert Huckman, owns a modest amount of Amazon shares.)

Just what exactly does this playbook appear to be and what does it imply for how Amazon may be taking into consideration the value of the main one Medical acquisition? We see three key components.

1. Simplicity

Since its founding, Amazons overarching goal has gone to simplify the procedure to getting products to customers. Simplification might have a direct effect on customers through increased usage of products today (Alexa, get me more toothpaste) and an indirect one by reducing Amazons costs and enabling future growth.

Analysts cited this focus on simplicity as grounds Amazon acquired the complete Foods chain of food markets in 2017. With the acquisition, Amazon not merely gained a physical retail presence near many customers. Furthermore, the broad network of locations presented Amazon with opportunities to simplify customers daily retail transactions in many ways: supplying a delivery service linked with customers existing Amazon accounts, providing secure lockers within Whole Foods stores to which customers could ship items they purchased on Amazons website, and allowing customers to come back their Amazon online purchases at the complete Foods stores without having to repackage the things.

2. Experimentation

For Amazon, simplicity emerges from experimentation. They are definitely not formal or structured experiments but instead the outcomes of enabling learning from your errors.

The launch of Amazon Web Services (AWS) in 2006 highlights Amazons method of home based business experimentation. AWS began as a diffuse cluster of services that Amazon found useful in building its core businesses of online retail. Given the challenges Amazon faced as an evergrowing, web-based company, the team that developed AWS led by Amazons current CEO, Andy Jassy was convinced that other small web designers may need similar help. Even though team correctly assumed there is broad demand for affordable cloud-computing infrastructure, it didn’t pretend to learn the specific ways that developers would actually use that infrastructure. AWS was thus setup as a flexible utility that developers and entrepreneurs could draw upon to resolve their most pressing problems.

As customers unearthed use cases, AWS could create packaged services for most of these development needs, whether for data storage, analytics, or transcribing speech into text. AWS in addition has had the opportunity to take advantage of the sale of applications that AWS users create and provide on its AWS Marketplace.

The upshot of the AWS story is a business Amazon thought might be beneficial to nascent developers has end up being the backbone for a few of the biggest companies on the planet many of which contend with Amazons other businesses and the predominant way to obtain Amazons profit (though it only makes up about roughly 16% of the companys revenue).

3. Recombination

The ultimate section of Amazons method of home based business expansion is really a continuous recombination of its existing assets. Before the acquisition of Whole Foods, the business created Amazon Go, a chain of convenience stores that use sensors and deep understanding how to develop a seamless and cashier-free shopping experience. Using Amazons Just GO OUT (JWO) technology, customers scan their phone upon entry, select products, and go out of the store without having to pay at a register.

In late 2020, nearly 3 years after acquiring Whole Foods, Amazon began opening its grocery stores beneath the Amazon Fresh brand, which had previously served customers with same-day deliveries directly from its warehouses. These stores, that used a version of the JWO technology included in its shopping carts, carried most of the national brands bought at larger grocery chains and also Amazons own brands, while Whole Foods centered on smaller brands and natural products at an increased price. Finally, in early 2022, Amazon introduced JWO in another of its Whole Foods locations in Washington, D.C., and plans to include the technology to another store in Sherman Oaks, California, later in 2022.

What Amazon has generated and acquired in the grocery space is really a group of brands that target distinct customer needs but which are connected through common assets. As time passes, they’re being moved to an identical group of in-store technologies that produce transactions simpler for the client and Amazon. They are able to link confirmed customers activity across a variety of product categories by way of a common identifier: a Prime account number. And, needless to say, many of these retail locations have the potential to serve as a warehouse to aid same-day delivery of products the best simplicity that Amazon aims to generate because of its customers.

Exactly what will this agglomeration of grocery assets be called? Amazon, Amazon Go, Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods, another thing? Maybe even Amazon will not know the solution to that at this time. What’s does know is that it has assets locations, technology, and, yes, even people that it could gather in novel methods to serve varied customer needs.

Just what exactly does Amazons playbook reveal about its plans for just one Medical and its own broader aspirations in healthcare? Similar to Whole Foods ahead of Amazons 2017 acquisition, One Medical is suffering from significant operational and financial challenges. Also, much like Whole Foods, the solution does not look like that Amazon only will aim to change the existing One Medical model. That model is challenged by many institutional and regulatory complexities that even Amazon might not be in a position to change. Instead, we’re able to imagine Amazon applying its playbook to create One Medical section of an evolving group of healthcare assets that Amazon may use to serve customer needs. Heres how:


With One Medical, Amazon expands its capability to offer convenience to customers. Initially, this can be as straightforward as scheduling appointments at One Medical locations using Amazons panoply of access points (e.g., website, app, Alexa, etc.) or expanding telehealth usage of individuals. As time passes, perhaps Amazon plans to wrap primary care services into its Prime membership. This membership could possibly be offered right to consumers or their employers.

Skeptics will correctly remember that this type of model would push Amazon in to the crowded and challenging business of medical health insurance where a great many other competitors, such as for example UnitedHealthcare and Aetna (owned by CVS) curently have a head start. They’ll add that can be an area where Amazons internal efforts because of its own employees, such as for example Amazon Care and the failed Haven jv with JPMorgan Chase and Berkshire Hathaway, have yet to bear fruit.

To be certain, One Medical still have not figured the forex market out either. You can find large, entrenched players that may make entry difficult. However, simply scaling a broken system as much would describe primary care in the usa is unlikely to bring about long-term success. Amazon likely views this complicated space with thin margins as you that provides ample chance of exploration and simplification. That’s where Amazons willingness to experiment and recombine enter into play.


Amazons search for simplicity in healthcare is ambitious but will, undoubtedly and by design, devote some time. Gradatim ferociter the Latin motto of Blue Origin, Jeff Bezoss venture into commercial space travel means step-by-step, ferociously. The motto could in the same way easily connect with Amazon. Its willingness to experiment can help the company discover ways to proceed with One Medical.

In the coming months, be prepared to see numerous attempts to provide new and various services across Amazons many delivery channels. This experimentation will not require Amazon to repair the existing limitations in the main one Medical model, in the same way it have not mastered the web pharmacy business after its acquisition of PillPack or its quest for lowering employers healthcare costs through Haven or Amazon Care.

Changes can look different across One Medical locations, across consumers in various states, and across individuals who just work at different employers that use Amazons services. That’s, after all, section of using acquisitions to assist experimentation. Much like Whole Foods, Amazon likely hopes to utilize One Medicals network of location to eventually scale quickly. But Amazons experience, whether with web services or groceries, shows that the main element to scaling quickly would be to start deliberately with significant upfront experimentation. To go fast, Amazon regularly starts slow.


One Medical provides Amazon with additional assets which can be recombined to handle pressing problems in healthcare. For example, among the banes of all Americans healthcare experience may be the insufficient portability of information. Electronic health records (EHRs) provide promise of seamless coordination but rarely are connected across different healthcare organizations.

Amazon has its EHR with Amazon Care and can acquire two new systems with One Medical: One Medicals own EHR and another that has been developed by its subsidiary, Iora Health. Just how these EHRs get together and how they connect to EHRs at local health systems (a lot of which already are One Medical partners) remain open questions. Nevertheless, Amazon now owns several pieces that it could pick apart and reassemble with the purpose of developing a more seamless experience for patients and providers.

This recombination may lead to innovation that goes beyond an easier and better method of keeping health records. For instance, an EHR that links to other Amazon services might allow a health care provider to prescribe not merely future medical appointments but additionally medicines through Amazon Pharmacy (grown through Amazons own efforts and its own acquisition of PillPack), durable medical equipment for home health, and also healthier foods (in one of Amazons grocery brands, needless to say) to handle dietary concerns.

Significant recombination and reimagination will undoubtedly be required if america would be to address the often-discussed health disparities and social determinants of health that serve as a barrier to effective healthcare for many. Using its growing selection of assets both within and beyond healthcare, Amazon gets the potential to provide a subscription that meets a thorough group of social needs offering (and exceed) the services included in traditional medical health insurance. This would be considered a meaningful addition from what one commentator overall Foods acquisition termed Amazons life bundle.

Without doubt the implications of this type of model for both privacy and market competition would require deep scrutiny and novel regulatory approaches. Still, if the returns for Amazon and society could be appropriately weighted, it might be worth discussing what value may be created by this kind of comprehensive service offering.

Amazon has stated that it hopes to utilize the acquisition of 1 Medical to transform healthcare. Such ambition isn’t uncommon for Amazons long-term aspirations in virtually any new business. Having said that, if Amazon knows anything, it really is that it doesnt know everything in regards to a new opportunity at that time it begins to pursue it. So possibly the right question to ask at this time is How will Amazons experimentation in healthcare change using its acquisition of 1 Medical?

As the prospects for scaling the existing One Medical model might not be particularly bright, that’s likely not Amazons long-term goal. Rather, in a single Medical, Amazon certainly sees bits of a puzzle that could eventually match others that it already owns or may acquire later on.

Though it isn’t yet certain what that puzzle can look like that’s, where Amazon find yourself in healthcare it really is clear that the business is more comfortable with taking time to find it out. We’ve argued previously a steady and consistent approach [to improvement] will be radical indeed for the U.S. healthcare system. Only time will tell if Amazon can result in this necessary change.

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