Amazon Care will be providing health services to Hilton as its second publicly announced customer.
As reported by Reuters, all of Hilton’s staff in the United States who are enrolled in a corporate health plan will have access to Amazon’s app-based medical options starting next year.
The move, said Amazon Care Director Kristen Helton at Reuters’ Total Health conference, is “a great step forward for the business to show we can provide care nationwide to their team members.”
WHY IT MATTERS
Amazon Care announced earlier this year that it would make its services available to employers throughout all 50 states.
But so far, few have bitten, with Washington-based fitness company Precor the only organization to publicly contract to provide Amazon Care to workers.
That makes the Hilton deal notable in several ways, as Reuters noted.
For one thing, Precor has 800 employees total and was only initially offering the service to the 385 based in Washington.
By contrast, Hilton employs about 141,000 people around the world, and all U.S. employees on corporate health plans can use the program.
Hilton will pay for a portion of the expenses: Text chats with providers will be free to patients while video visits will require a fee.
House calls, which are available in Seattle and Washington-Baltimore (with plans to expand to other cities), will also incur an undisclosed cost.
Interestingly, Helton also pointed to artificial intelligence as playing a potential role.
“We will have clinicians in the loop for a period of time until we can actually trust that AI and those technology solutions are taking care of the patient in the way that is best,” she said.
The news came alongside an announcement from California’s attorney general that Amazon has entered into a settlement agreement regarding its COVID-19 notification practices.
According to the Associated Press, the tech giant will pay $500,000 and be subject to monitoring by California officials to make sure it’s properly informing them about new cases.
THE LARGER TREND
Other major retailers have also made moves toward offering healthcare, fueled in part by many consumers’ newfound comfort with telemedicine use.
Walmart, for instance, has signaled its own expansion plans, recently hiring Ochsner executive Dr. David Carmouche to lead its omnichannel healthcare push.
For their part, legacy telehealth providers say they’re not concerned about other companies’ eagerness to get in on the so-called gold rush of virtual care.
“Look, healthcare is a $19 trillion dollar kind of industry, just from a U.S. perspective. There’s more than enough for all of us,” Teladoc CIO Claus Jensen told Healthcare IT News this past month. “You don’t need to be the best at every single part. We do need to be the best at putting the pieces together.”
ON THE RECORD
“Healthcare is in the very early stages of a transformation to an entirely new model of care. If Amazon is the one to deliver the big breakthrough we have been waiting for, so be it. Someone has to do something,” wrote healthcare IT expert Paddy Padmanabhan about the company’s efforts earlier this year.
Kat Jercich is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.
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